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When self-forgiveness is the fragrance then the air is sweet

'Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it'
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Cynthia Breadner for BradfordToday

Today in the wee hours of the morning before I was really awake, I was in my smoky time.  That time in rest when I am between spiritual dream time and fully humanly conscious time.  It is the time where I often get a question to ponder and write about before my morning tea or coffee.  A question to ponder and dream on in what seems like hours but could only be minutes. 

Today in the veiled time I was asked “What would you do if today you awoke and knew it was your last day on earth?”  Once the question is asked, I then spend some minutes in conversation with a dream.  This meditative dream time is a knowing, an understanding, a peace that is given to me to set my heart to rest and a place where contentment is truly felt.  This simple question might be scary or morbid, however when you are friends with mortality and live each day with a choice to understand that as we are born, we shall die to this human existence to live each day as if it is the last is the ultimate gift. 

In this question, I thought about my grandsons and realized I would want to sit with them and simply watch them play.  I would observe and honour them in their young ages and marvel at how life has not gripped them in that need to prove anything yet.  I would watch them dream and play their day into being. 

As a death doula I have come to an understanding about human life.  This understanding is a place where if this was the last day on earth for me, that’s okay.

I have faced the unfinished business and put to bed the things that create guilt and are fractious in life.  In AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) there is a step where you make amends and repair the relationships that have been broken due to a person’s drinking.  This step is an important one to any person and, while saying I am sorry may seem easy to some, it is not.  It is difficult and it is deep, and it is a valuable step both for the person doing it and the receiver.  

One can ask forgiveness without realizing the depth to which this request will go.  Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” It is ephemeral, fleeting and yet so beautiful.  It comes from a very deep place and forgiveness is not given or received lightly and mostly is an action of forgiving oneself.  

Forgiveness is often unable to be given and evanescent to both the giver and the receiver.  One’s life, in order to be fully happy, begins when we live in forgiveness and continues as the fragrance. When relationships need mending there are often many facets of brokenness.  When one peels back the layers and puts forth the vulnerable underbelly of their heart, in this vulnerability is where relationships are full, strong and lasting.  

Many years ago, I tended to a family and provided oversight to a daughter whose father died.  They had been estranged for years and forgiveness had never been explored.  The relationship had never been mended.  I did not know him in life, I was brought on board after his death.  I knew the daughter and the extended family.  As I prepared the funeral service, I was given some insight about broken relationships and how sometimes the ability to mend them here in this time escapes us and the painful break is taken to the other side for healing.  This often leaves one soul here and the other behind the veil trapped in a fractured existence.  That is a tough place to live.  When self-forgiveness is the fragrance then the air is sweet.

During my dreaming spiritual time this day as the question was asked, “What would you do today, if you knew it was your last day on earth?”  I would do what I do every day.  Seek the forgiveness I need to put my head down at night.  I would be kind, loving and caring to every person I meet.  I would step out in love and curiosity and wonder, so at the end of the day there would be no stone unturned and no cheeks left unkissed.  I might go and say a couple of silent goodbyes, I would hug my children knowing I have given good direction, raised them well and given them the planning for what to do and how to live on.    I would hug my grandbabies a little harder and tighter and have them squirm and squeal, “Let me go Gramma…” and I would smile.  I would sit under a tree and listen to the wind and I would walk in the forest and hear the birds.  I would eat a large bowl of ice cream and I would be thankful for my journey.  

I would appreciate that I have finished my emotional business, said what I needed to say, repaired what was broken to the best of my ability, recognized the  moments where I know I was obstinate, cranky, out of line, drunk and disorderly, unforgiving and simply arrogant.  I would gather all the sunshine I could into my soul and plant seeds deeply into the darkness so I can grow something cool in the next adventure.  

As I waited with blessed anticipation for the birth of my third grandchild, I compared that wee baby’s unknown anxieties with my own.  As they had no idea what is beyond the womb of my daughter, I have no idea what is beyond the womb of this earth.  I can only imagine the next adventure and I choose to believe it is as beautiful and exciting as the family this baby is joining.  I wonder what soul contract is in play in this tiny human.  I wonder what my soul will report upon returning home.

So, if I was to know it is my last day on earth, I would live it like I do every day, with love, compassion, empathy, wonder, curiosity, fun, laughter, joy and most of all, faith.

Cynthia Breadner is a soul care worker who offers one-on-one homecare for aging adults who choose to age in place. This care includes emotional support, physical care, mental well-being, and spiritual practices to sooth the soul.  She is a volunteer at hospice, LTC chaplain and a death doula, assisting with end-of-life for client and family.  She is the founder of GriefCafeBradford and practices soul care in the South Simcoe and North York region. She raises awareness how birth and death, each end of life can both be joy-filled and hopeful passages.