Converting a painful inheritance

Converting a painful inheritance into something good requires all the discernment we can muster, both from what is within us, and what we can glean from mentors. The worst of the curses that people inflict on us, the real abuse and terror, can’t be forgotten or undone, but they can be put to good use in the new life that one has taken up. It is a kind of death; the lid close on what went before. But the past is not denied. And we are still here, with all our talents, gifts, and failings, our strengths and weaknesses. All the baggage comes along: nothing wasted, nothing lost. Perhaps the greatest blessing that religious inheritance can bestow is an open mind, one that can listen without judging. It is rare enough that we recognize it in another when we encounter it. I often see it in people who have attained what the monastic tradition terms “detachment,” an ability to live at peace with reality of whatever happens. Such people do not have a closed-off air, nor a boastful demeanor. In them, it is clear, their wounds have open the way to compassion for others. And compassion is the strength and soul of a religion.---Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, p. 29