Last Sunday I had one of those days. It was like a Jesua version of Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
One thing after another went askew. I won’t even bore or depress you with the detailed account of everything that went wrong. It was like a comedy of errors, except at the time it really didn’t seem funny to me at all.
All day long I barely held it together; triggered by circumstance, humbled by hormones, and challenged by life’s sometimes mean and messy ways.
Finally, when I arrived home that evening, late of course, I walked in the door and Ekara, our 5 month old puppy immediately jumped up onto me and tore a hole in my longtime favorite, most beautiful hooded sweater.
The one I wear every day, through all the seasons~ to work, to be cozy and to dress up: my very favorite, lovely sweater I love, white, with sacred embroidery all over it. And needless to say, this hole made me so very sad and so very mad. This hole in my favorite sweater was apparently the very last straw in my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
And so I yelled. I yelled at the puppy and I yelled at God: “No! Down! Off!” And the puppy hurried outside, and the children scattered. And I stormed around the house like Kali Ma until I found a needle fine enough and thread white enough and then sat down on the couch, feeling very sorry for myself indeed, and did my best to sew up the gaping hole in my very favorite sweater.
Soon, my 6 year old son Ezra got brave enough to come close. He climbed up onto the couch where I sat and quietly clasped his arms around my neck, kissing my face tenderly: one kiss, two kisses, three kisses.
And then he said, with the kindest, gentlest, buddha-teacher voice: “You can forgive yourself for getting so mad, Mama.” I looked up at him, and his sweet blue eyes gazing sincerely into mine, and gave him a small nod of teary thanks. He nodded kindly in return. “And,” he added, gently, “only when you are ready, Mama? You can even forgive the dog.”
This was at once so adorable, and so hilarious to me, that I burst into giggles, and hugged this little teacher close. Only when I’m ready, I can even forgive the dog! So perfect. These words pierced through all the challenge of my day, my year, my lifetime, and I put the needle and thread down, forgetting for a moment about trying to fix what was hopelessly broken.
Instead I let his love in, and let this powerful reflection in: for all the challenge, and all the messiness and brokenness of life, I must have done something incredibly right. I must have done something right for these to be the words my young son chose to share with me in a moment of challenge. Words of kindness in support of self-forgiveness and forgiveness, self-compassion and compassion for another. Words in support of truth and love.
Then my graceful daughter Arayla (10) came downstairs, clearly relieved to see me smiling again, and her brother looking very pleased with himself and his potent, healing ways. And she walked straight over to inspect my sewing work on the hole in my favorite sweater, and, picking it up in her fingers and holding it close to her eyes, said sweetly: “You did a great job, Mom! I can’t even tell there was a hole there. You fixed it. You are a really good seamstress!”
And I looked at the sewing, the bumps and lumps and the crinkles, and thought to myself: I will always know there was a hole there. But sometimes just a few stitches and a little reminder of forgiveness is all it takes; all it takes to make it good enough again.