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Lions Roar : November 2013
before been interested in Japanese food. Mention sushi to her and she’d always wrinkle her nose—“Ugh, raw fish.” But that was her request, to go out for sushi! One of Mom’s pleasures was giving Angie first-time experiences, so she sug- gested some items for Angie to order, yet only nibbled a few grains of rice herself. I don’t know how she kept from fainting that day, because by then choking pre- vented her from taking all but the tiniest sips of the smoothies we gave her and she was making virtually no urine. She also had very poor control of her hands, which were weak and tremulous. At the end of the meal—with great concentration—she took more than ten minutes to carefully and legibly write on the receipt, “Thank you. That was very good. Helen Pierce.” What I infer here is that, despite a resentment that had long ago ebbed, Mom decided that there was one vitally important final thing that she needed to do; she needed to formally forgive the Japanese soldiers for what had happened to her family during the war and somehow transmit her forgiveness. Writing her note was the intimate, personal ritual that she devised to accomplish this. The Buddhist monk Thanissaro Bhik- khu writes, “The Pali word for forgive- ness—khama—also means ‘the Earth.’ A mind like the Earth is nonreactive and unperturbed. When you forgive me for harming you, you decide not to retaliate, to seek no revenge. You don’t have to like me. You simply unburden yourself of the weight of resentment and cut the cycle of retribution that would otherwise keep us ensnarled in an ugly samsaric wrestling match. This is a gift you can give us both, totally on your own, without my hav- ing to know or understand what you’ve done.” The dignity and wisdom of my moth- er’s small act of kindness feels to me like a blessing we are all invited to learn from. It makes me wonder, what burdens can I release through forgiveness during the relatively short time I have left on this planet? What exactly am I still hanging on to and why? ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 16