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Henri Nouwen and Forgiveness

Return of the prodigal

The following is from Henri Nouwen in From Fear to Love: Lenten Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. 

One way for me to work with my resentments is to acknowledge the suffering of the other person. Whenever I'm hurt, I perceive the other person as strong, and myself as weak. But when I'm willing to consider the other person's individual history with struggle and agony, I'm prevented from judging too harshly or feeling such anger. I may still totally disagree with their actions and decisions, but in this frame of mind I can say, "I really see your life as a different life than mine." I'm able to give people permission to make their own unique decisions  out of their own life and history, decisions that are different from the ones I have made. I make an effort to understand them because of my willingness to listen from their side of their story. Indeed, my conversion or return is precisely my openness to bring these very people into my heart by saying in truth, "You are my brother, you are my sister." 

O Breath of my life, give me a generous heart to show forgiveness to others as you have shown it to me. 

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