During lent we think about our wrong doings and we say sorry. We say sorry to God and we ask for His forgiveness. It's like throwing a stone into water and watching the ripples spread out. The ripples of the apology, the forgiveness, the healing and the change in behaviour.
Saying sorry is hard. It takes a lot of courage and a fair amount of humility. When we say sorry we are saying that we know we've made a mistake and that we will try not to do it again. That's a big deal.
It's something we expect our kids to do when they're tiny and yet we find it almost impossible as adults.
Why is that?
Is it because we don't see what good it can do us and the receiver of the apology?
I think it might be.
I like to think of an apology as an echo, a wave of sound bouncing back and forth. Or, to use another system of waves, as a ripple on water.
Sometimes our sorry's are small, for small things which only affected one person. In these situations the ripples don't travel very far, they move out and are then absorbed by the water and forgotten.
But other times we need to give a massive apology, perhaps to quite a few people at once. The ripple that hits the water then is massive, they go off at speed and last for many minutes in the water affecting lots of the surrounding area before being absorbed.
In some situations people owe apologies to each other and they say sorry together meeting in the middle to a calm space. So it is with two sets of ripples on the water; they move outwards and start interacting until they find peace and calm between themselves.
Other times many people owe apologies but they are all stand alone and their ripples never interact and never affect each other. The ripples are seen more than felt before they are gone.
And then there are the huge apologies, the ones which could change the world when they are given. For these there is a lot of weight and waiting around and the impact is huge. There is the initial ripple of shock and disbelief, then the outward moving wave of acceptance and change. The ripples keep going out with the apology spreading and decreasing as it touches those affected. This is an apology which needs to be given and needs to be received. This is the one where acceptance of the apology matters before the ripples are absorbed.
God takes our apologies, small, medium and large; and accepts them. He forgives us and helps us deal with the ripples from our actions. This lent let us give our sorry's to God and let Him heal us through water.