I suppose the best prayers ~ personal hopes and expectations ~ are emblematic of our ideal self, always a little bit imaginary.

Emily Dickinson’s “’Tis true – They shut me in the Cold -“ acknowledges first the baggage and grudges, of childhood, as well as the cognitive procedure to achieve a life free of them.  Spoken as a prayer, the poem’s aim is toward becoming a more honorable person.

‘Tis true – They shut me in the Cold –
But then — Themselves were warm
And could not know the feeling ’twas –
Forget it – Lord – of Them –

Let not my Witness hinder Them
In Heavenly esteem –
No Paradise could be – Conferred
Through Their beloved Blame –

The Harm They did – was short – And since
Myself – who bore it – do –
Forgive Them – Even as Myself –
Or else – forgive not me –

My experience says that childhood years and feelings about unhappy memories may hinder true maturity. Children and parents are certainly not always in harmony.  Expressing these stressful contrasts, “..me in the Cold -” while “.. – Themselves were warm” perfectly describes a child’s complaint. Sometimes complaints are warranted, sometimes not, of course. Then, the adult perspective, they “..could not know..”

This poem/prayer describes a certainty, “Forget it – Lord – of Them – ”, an authority over self that only results from complete acceptance.  Showing, too, that growing up may require the realization that proving fault in a parent not only does not improve our own status with ourself: “Let not my Witness hinder Them”.  Let alone with anyone else: “No Paradise could be – Conferred/Through Their beloved Blame -”.  Forgiveness magically works both ways, ”- Even as Myself -” enjoyed forgiveness in the process.

This personal voice echos all authentic religious teaching, that since the person who suffered has forgiven those who caused the pain, then surely God will, too. “… since/Myself – who bore it – do -/Forgive Them…”.

Whether regarding parents or someone else I feel has harmed me I have habitually been content to strive to be more forgiving. This poem confronts me with the absolute. “Or else – forgive not me -”.

One humorous way to recall my notion of “enough forgiveness” is also aimed at suggesting I relax, too, and goes something like this: Everything will be alright in the end. If everything is not alright, it’s not the end.

This poem is much more divisive, if you will, between lackadaisical attitudes and genuine, complete forgiveness, demanding that which sets me free for my tomorrows.

Digest A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way

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