* * * * * *


Around the council fire each member of the family spoke. In the balance lay the life of the young man sitting restlessly outside. Murder is a terrible thing. Murder of a friend is more terrible yet. Yet there he sat, the blood of his friend still on his hands, awaiting his fate.

“Let us think this through,” spoke the grandfather softly. Sorrow deepened the lines on his wrinkled face. Generations spoke through him. “Will killing him return our boy to us?”    “No.” “No.” “No.” The word moved slowly around the tortured circle, sometimes whispered, sometimes murmured, sometimes spoken spitefully.

“Will killing him help feed our people?” asked the old man, his eyes steady. Again, “No,” then “No,” then “No,” moved around the circle. “My brother speaks the truth,” said the great-uncle. All faces turned toward him. A tear ran slowly down his cheek. “Let us look at this matter carefully.”

They did look at it carefully. They deliberated through the night. Then they called the young man to his fate. “See that tepee?” they said, pointing to the tepee of the young man he had killed. He nodded. “It is yours now.  “See those horses?” they said, pointing to the dead man’s horses. He nodded again.

“They are yours now. You are now our son .You will take the pface of the one you have killed.”  He looked up slowly to the faces surrounding him. His new life had begun, and so had theirs.

Brown Bear looked across the table at me. “That actually happened in the late eighteen hundreds,” he said. “They could have killed him. Tribal law gave them the right.”

I sat amazed as Brown Bear’s words sank into me. Could the family of a murdered boy adopt the murderer as their son?  “The young man became a very devoted son,” Brown Bear continued. “By the time he died, he was known in al1 the tribes as the model of a loving son.

This is forgiveness. Authentically empowered people forgive naturally. They forgive because they do not want to carry the burden of not forgiving like heavy suitcases through a crowded airport. The family of the murdered boy could have killed his killer . Instead they took him as their son. That changed their lives and his. They did not know how their decision would affect the young man, but they felt the effects of it on themselves.

They did not have to hate him. They did not have to live with his death in their hearts, as well as the death of their son. Have you ever thought that someone treated you badly, and then thought about it again and again? How did that make you feel? Were you angry, or sad, or frightened? That is what they gave up. Until you forgive, you cannot use all of your creativity. Part of you is thinking about what you have not forgiven. Do you want to live your life that way? Is it really worth it? Is anything worth that?

Forgiveness and harmony go together. When you forgive someone, nothing stands between you and that person. Even if the person you forgive does not like you, you have laid your suitcases down . You travel lightly.

When you are harmonious you are playful. You delight in people. Not forgiving stops this . Forgiving opens the door to it.

Harmony does not only mean harmony with other people. Are you in harmony with yourself? Do parts of yourself frighten you, or make you angry? Can you forgive those parts? Are you afraid of dropping the ball, losing the deal, or failing the test? Imagine that each time you get angry at yourself, you put a brick into a backpack that you are wearing. Can you enjoy yourself while you are wearing a backpack full of bricks?

Are you in harmony with the Universe? Do you think it has wronged you? How happy can you really be while you are holding a grudge against the Universe? This is the real issue. What you feel about the Universe shows you what you feel about yourself. Are you afraid of your anger? You will also be afraid of an angry Universe. The Universe isn’t angry, but you will be afraid that it is.

Hating yourself and hating the Universe are the same thing. Loving yourself and loving the Universe are the same thing. Not forgiving the Universe is a real heavy burden to carry. Why not lighten your load? In fact, why not get rid of it? If forgiving the Universe seems more than you can do, start by forgiving another person . Put down one suitcase at a time.

That is how you create harmony. It is also tiow you forgive!



Copyright @ 2000. (Pgs. 113-16)

by: Gary Zukav


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