Today, at this moment, as I sit (or stand) here writing, it is the day before the eve of Yom Kippur. The holiest Jewish day of the year. The shabbat of shabbats (and on shabbat this year, too).
Before Yom Kippur, Jews ask forgiveness from all whom we may have wronged in the previous year and we forgive those who have wronged us, ritually.
We ask forgiveness for hurts we have caused intentionally and those we caused unintentionally. Asking forgiveness for the hurts we don't even know we caused. Wow. Now that is a difficult practice!
There's a huge part of me that doesn't want to know about the hurts I have unintentionally caused. I didn't intend them, after all, and I don't know about them and ignorance is bliss, right? This is why I usually wait til the very last second to ask forgiveness from my wider circle.
One year, back in the livejournal years, someone emailed me to tell me what I'd done to hurt her. It was (of course) forgetting to do something that I'd offered to do. Because that's one of my superpowers: my expansive imagination, which has the shadow side of forgetfulness.
(And the shadow side of my generous nature? Offering to give or do too much. I offered to make my friend a new tallis at the same time that I was moving to the other side of the continent. In hindsight, not a great time to be making generous offers.)
Since I know this about myself, I tend to ask people to remind me, if something is important to them and needs doing at a later time. Other people forget sometimes, too, and that's where having a policy of kindness is the best thing.
We all miss the mark. We are human. Kindness helps tremendously. (Mindfulness, too.)
And yet, despite my kindness practice, I know there are ways I have hurt people this year. Through forgetting, or through other ways that I don't yet realize. It sucks to learn that I hurt someone else. But I can't work on learning how not to hurt someone again, unless I know what I have done. And so I ask, sincerely:
If I have done something (or not done something) this year, that has hurt you, whether it was my intention to hurt you or not, please let me know, that I might be able to ask for forgiveness and work on not doing that thing, whatever it was, again.
Ritually, I am now supposed to forgive you for anything you have done to hurt me this past year. But I can not think of one thing I still need to forgive. It is forgiven already, if there was anything to forgive. I am still practicing forgiving myself and not taking things personally every day and doing that on a daily level most certainly reduces the amount of hurt feelings I hold. (Not taking things personally is particularly awesome.)
I'm still human. I'm just doing my best to take care of hurt feelings before they fester. Daily practice makes a difference. Thank goodness.
May you forgive yourself. May you forgive others. May there be nothing left to forgive, the world made whole and healthy, speedily, in our days.