The flames of forgiveness

The flames of forgiveness
'Love' by Alexandr Milov, at Burning Man 2015

‘Love’ by Alexandr Milov, at Burning Man 2015

Alexandr Milov was the first Ukranian to receive a grant from Burning Man to create his art, and his piece was recognized as one of the most powerful from last year’s festival. Of his creation, aptly christened Love, Milov wrote: “It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children start to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”

So when I came across it on social media a few days ago, it struck a chord deep within my being, because this is something I live through every single day.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve held the belief that forgiveness, like trust, is something that must be earned. If one is truly sorry for something, one would — or should — apologize, and then go about making right whatever they have done wrong. Then, and only then, can they be forgiven, and trusted again. But if no apology comes, how is forgiveness to follow? If their mistakes were not actually mistakes, but conscious choices, albeit bad ones, made intentionally to produce a desired outcome, why should they be sorry? And if they do apologize, only to repeat their transgressions, what is their apology worth?

Needless to say, I don’t remember ever forgiving anyone for anything.

For the last 13 months, my life has been a series of bad choices made in rapid succession. Every single decision made and subsequent action taken was a conscious one that resulted in more than one heart saved, and more than one heart broken. And every time a choice was made, the list of things I can’t forgive grew longer, to the point where I am now conditioned to prepare myself for the worst and expect history to keep repeating itself. My inability to trust fuels my refusal to forgive because I have never been given a reason to trust that wrongs will be righted and mistakes will be fixed.

Alexandr Milov’s Love tells us to let go of the anger and resentment that solidifies that yawning gap between us caused by our conflicts, and to embrace the forgiving spirit of our inner child when the darkness threatens to consume us. But how do we forgive when we are reminded every day that those bad choices made are the very reason the darkness in our souls exist? How do we let go of the anger and the hatred when they are the only things holding our walls up and protecting our hearts from being broken yet again? How do we put our trust in love when love is what drove us to make these choices in the first place?

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