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Building a Bridge of Forgiveness

karen otis


This month we recognize Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for the Jewish religion.  As the most holy of days, it guides us to ask God for forgiveness for our sins. And, in so doing, we ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt.  We have come to understand the profound benefits of forgiveness to our own mind and body health.  Harboring resentment, anger, and hurt eats away at our hearts. It builds negativity, fuels fury, and constricts us. 

But what does forgiveness really mean and how does one really go about the process of forgiving? The definition of forgiveness is:  Giving up your right to hurt back.  By forgiving, I do not mean I forget.  It simply means that I won’t keep hurting you back for the hurt you have caused me.

  We must recognize that human beings are not perfect; that missteps are bound to happen. And by forgiving, we are expanding our hearts rather than constricting them.  As a general rule, expansion always feels better than constriction.  In architecture, when you walk into a space that expands, with high ceilings, a sense of openness, perhaps light-filled and open to the outdoors there is a feeling of unlimited air and space, we feel a sense of uplift…we can breathe with ease.  On the other hand, when we walk into a tight constricting space, like a tight hallway, or let’s say an airplane bathroom…we are immediately uncomfortable, tight, and everything constricts, even our breathing.

Forgiveness is the first step towards harmony.  It is a one-way street, because it only requires one person.  And in many cases, that may be enough or all that is wanted.  However, if you truly desire to reconcile with the other person, that takes two. Both the person who was hurt and the one who did the hurting need to be willing to build a bridge.  By definition, “a bridge is a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle.”

As architecture, the beauty of a bridge comes from its ability to connect with strength, grace, and expanse.  If our souls can forgive with the same strength, grace, and expanse then we will exquisitely experience a connection that is inspired and divine.

Wishing all a year of inspiration and boundless connection,