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by Susan Russell

I’ve loved reading Anne Lamott since I discovered “Bird by Bird” – her “instructions on writing and life” – in 1996. Over the years I’ve found her to be inspiring and insightful, honest and hysterical, challenging and clarifying — all wrapped up in the both/and of a deep and questioning faith.

Her latest book is a compilation of essays called “Small Victories” and it’s one of the things I’m reading this Lent. Here are some of her thoughts on forgiveness:

People like to say, “Forgiveness begins with forgiving yourself.” Well, that’s nice. Thank you for sharing. It does and it doesn’t. To think you know is proof that you don’t. But forgiveness sure doesn’t begin with reason. The rational insists that it is right, that we are right. It is about attacking and defending, which means there can be no peace. It loves the bedtime story of how we’ve been injured. The rational is claustrophobic, too. The choice is whether you want to stay stuck in being right but not being free – or admit you’re pretty lost and probably available for a long, deep breath, which is as big as the universe, stirs the air around, maybe opens a window.

When you sacrifice the need to be right, because you have been wronged, you put down the abacus that has always helped you keep track of things. This jiggles you free from clutch and quiver. You can unfurl your fingers, hold out your palm, openhanded.

What might you be called to let go of this Lent in order to choose being free over being right?

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