Sometimes You Have To Forgive God
Yogi Bhajan often told us, “Sometimes you have to forgive God.”
Sounds great but not easy to do.
Whether the cause for disappointment or depression is a national election or a personal loss, following this advice is the most practical thing to do. Because it is so difficult to forgive people, you have to take your case to a higher level.
Let me share a personal story with you that happened recently to me.
Last August I took my sweet hubby on a nostalgic trip high up into the Colorado Rockies where my parents and I found joy living in their friend's humble log cabin every summer as I grew from age 10 to 20. Those of you who followed us in the many pictures we posted on Facebook and Instagram on that trip may remember our path of rediscovery.
This little place was “home” to me. It brought our little Philadelphia family of three together in a way nothing else could. Yet with a busy life capturing me during college in Missouri, then a busy life in business in New York for 27 plus years, and since 1987 so busy as a teacher and counselor here in Arizona, I hadn't been back there since I was 20. And that was 57 years ago!
Friends in Boulder asked me to come teach, and I jumped at that invite. Finally I could take a few days in that sacred land and bring my best buddy with me!
We visited Estes Park, a bustling mountain town surrounded by high peaks, and south from there little Allenspark which was closer to our family's hearts (and housed the now-abandoned stables where I began my love affair with horses).
We also drove a full day over Trail Ridge Road, the longest, highest highway in North America (it used to hold the world title in the 1950s). We crossed the Great Divine, midst a wild, brief snow storm, at 12,183 ft altitude.
This was all great. But my secret goal on this trip was to find that old cabin again with its little wooden sign on the porch proudly proclaiming “9,000' Altitude.”
This took a lot of work. On the second morning we drove down Route 7 looking for the turnoff. I told Hari Nam I would recognize it. He thought we needed a map. Driving slowly, we stopped at the base of the trail going up Twin Sisters, a majestic peak where I frequently hiked up to the fire lookout station at over 11,000 ft altitude.
Then I saw the dirt road turnoff and, excited, we followed it in. Oddly, there is a street sign – but it is still a dirt road! The few cabins we saw there were all new. It was so disappointing. We searched and searched for the cabin and found nothing. We didn't even find the single lane turnoff where the old cabin should have been.
So we took a different course. We visited county records at the historical society and poured over land deeds and aerial maps. We talked to librarians and searched tax records to find how the cabin had changed hands so we could trace ownership and somehow find the old owner's name.
We drove back and searched again, parking at various spots on the dirt road, talking to folks in one cabin, and walking in various places.
And then we found it! Well, not the cabin. Actually we found the old outhouse!
What a sight! There it was – decrepit, tilting over, obviously long unused since the 1950s. Not even home to what were once families of wasps.
How did I know, for sure? I had sat on that outhouse seat every summer for 10 years. I knew every board used to build this structure – how the door was comprised of a different wood than the walls. Some things, oddly, you never forget.
Dad called it the “Chic Sale's Bungalow” though I never knew what that mean until recently when we discovered this referred to a comedian-actor in the 20s-30s who wrote a play about a man who built outhouses. The term, and actor's name, stuck with my parents' generation and so it has with me.
I knew those foundation stones well, having sat many a morning in the sunlight on the old stoop. I pointed all this out to Hari Nam in each picture he took.
But the old beloved cabin was gone, long gone. There was no more “home.”
I admit I was miffed for quite some time. The old cabin was a classic, though our family friend who built it was not the greatest in construction. The walls didn't quite meet the roof so hundreds of moths flew in every night, drawn by the kerosene lanterns we used to read. There had been a magnificent fire place which provided the only central heating. How could they tear that down?
Silly as this may seem, I was literally in mourning. Inside me was crying.
How many mornings I had ridden my horse “Butterscotch” up to the porch and tied the reins over the railing. And a nearby tree had provided a strong limb for our only shower, the place where we draped a hose coming off a nearby pipeline that brought water down from the higher elevations. Then there was the old Chautauqua “ice box” on the cabin porch which had to be refilled daily with ice from town.
I grew up referring to the “ice box” despite the term refrigerator that came into our lives in the late 1950s with the purchase of a “Frigidaire” back in our Philadelphia home. To this day I sometimes default to “ice box” when talking.
The rest of the trip was exciting as we journeyed across the Great Divide, then down to the gold fields of Central City, once called the “richest square mile on earth.”
But I was still in mourning. I told no one. Hari Nam was smart and didn't inquire. He did things to make me laugh. That's a great gift of his.
Then one morning weeks later, back in Arizona, I remembered what Yogi Bhajan had told us: “Sometimes you have to forgive God.”
So I looked once again at the pictures we had taken in Colorado. I stared lovingly at the old outhouse, the remains of the old stable and the community church in Allenspark. But mostly I looked at pictures of my favorite mountain, Long's Peak, at 14,259 ft one of the highest in North America. I had hiked it and each morning from the cabin porch I watched as the sun streaked over the face of its sheer 2000-foot escarpment.
Then I understood. Things built by man always crumble and change, are built and rebuilt. What was built on top of that which had been will itself be replaced by new structures. All things come and go by God's will. The wise ones forgive God for all the disruption and understand this is how our souls came to learn. Souls learn through difficult climates, brutal dictatorships, many forms of what we call inhuman conditions. They learn and they grow. They build, hold on, and then let go.
So I said a prayer of gratitude for “home” which lives within my heart always. The cabin lives on, the funky Chic Sale's bungalow is still there, the awesome mountains and the inspiring sights are still real and will likely outlive many many more generations of humans.
Then I asked God to forgive those who came and knocked down the old cabin and brought in modern buildings dotting the landscape.
It is still my beloved country.
My friends, please release yourselves from your disappointments, put aside tears and anger, learn from change that you may disagree with, return to positivity and keep working constructively for what you believe in.
The change in the political landscape that has occurred is the result of the pendulum swinging; it always does. And eventually it will swing back again.
And remember to forgive God for it all.
Find a place to move ahead with whatever this change is supposed to teach us. God continues to protect us and keep us on course. As the message displayed at the local Presbyterian Church where we voted reminded us all: “No matter what is ahead, God is already there.”
Bless you, bless you always!
Sangeet Kaur Khalsa
February 10, 2017
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