Leave the Lady at the River
Keep your eye on the road and use your rear mirror only to avoid trouble. -Daniel Meacham
Two monks were walking through a forest when they encountered a woman stranded at the bank of a stream. One of the monks graciously carried the woman across the stream, and the men continued on their way. The other monk fumed for a long time, and then blurted out, "You know it is against the rules of our order to touch a woman!"
"Yes," answered the first monk, "but I put her down an hour ago."
Carrying the past with us is always more burdensome than any mistake we have made. Guilt, resentment, and criticism of self or others for past deeds is far more debilitating than a momentary error. Any energy we invest in reliving or resenting the past detracts from the life at hand.
The movie The Mission tells of Mendoza, a slave trader who, after murdering his brother, is filled with remorse. In seeking to do penance, Mendoza carries over his shoulder a massive sack of heavy steel weaponry. He climbs a huge waterfall with this weighty burden, only to be met by the tribe from which he extracted slaves. The chief approaches him with a long knife, and Mendoza bares his breast to be slain. Instead, the chief severs the rope to the sack, which tumbles far down to the river below. While Mendoza inflicted a lifelong sentence of pain and misery upon himself, the Indian taught him how to forgive.
Are there any sacks of self-inflicted penance you've been carrying? Cut them now and be free.
Take from me the pain I have inflicted on myself.
Show me the grace I have missed, that I may know Your love completely.
I take refuge in the peace of this moment, and I am free.