It was just a dream. An old friend came from a war torn place across the ocean where now there is tense peace. There is still suspicion, and she pays bribes to keep the enemy at bay, but life goes on. It's not perfect. It could be, but no one is willing to demand it. They accept the good enough because no one has the strength to believe for the best. Kinda familiar.
She came without the twenty years since she was here last. It was a surprise to see her. I didn't know she was coming. When she arrived, we were about to join a military regiment. In a dream everything makes sense, but that didn't. Still, we eagerly signed up to take tests, tests that would reveal important things, things that people need to know about themselves. They would tell us what we are made of.
Two friends together can overcome all, but our tests were in separate places. She went one way and I went another. I was in a shadowy, dark, and dusty office building with many rooms and, somehow, this was the location of our finding out important things. It wasn't grand or magnificent. The tests couldn't be so great. What could a simple location like this tell us? You spend ordinary days in an office building. What could ordinary days teach us?
My first test took place at a small cliff in a small room. It was manmade, but treacherous nonetheless. There were several of us, each tasked with figuring out how to get down from a great height. One girl in my group threw caution aside and jumped with no preparation whatsoever. She shattered like glass when she hit the ground, but she was like a video game character who would reappear later to take the test again. I watched this and decided to kick something over to break my fall. There were stacks of items just to the side and clearly visible. I kicked. It worked.
I was feeling pretty smart and my next test was similar, as was the one after that. But the next was forming something out of clay. I failed. Just like the glass girl, I reappeared later to retake the test and passed it the second time. I learned.
My fifth test was forgiveness.
I could see a young woman who had been treated badly. She was a dark sketch of a broken, harmed figure, immense woe and pain hanging on her. She couldn't shake it off. It literally held her down. She had something to forgive. Something real. I somehow knew her story in the dream and it was horrific. I can't even put it into words, but she was crushed, wounded, and despondent. It was my job to "be" the young woman and forgive her tormentors in order to set her free.
But how do you forgive? Everyone talks about it. People say it. People do it, someone somewhere, I think. It sounds impossible, feels impossible. How do you lift the weight and throw it off? They. Did. Wrong. I can't erase that! How can I give up their guilt? Forgiveness makes no sense!
If you've ever been the one forgiven you feel it. Sudden lightness. The heavy presence of astonishment and gratitude. Humility, though it is embarrassing to admit. Peace, a word used so much we can forget how good it tastes.
But how do you do it?
In the dream I knew how! I was going to pray for the people who had caused her pain. It's maddening to write that, even though I have seen it work. (Pray for them?! They don't deserve that! Pride tries to rise up in my throat and choke my words.) I was going to pray for them and bless them, or at least pray for blessings for them. I knew it would work and the girl would be free. Honestly, forgiveness was not what I wanted to do to them, but I knew it was the right thing to do because it would work and she would be free. So that's what I purposed to do. Despite what I felt like, I would do it.
That's when I woke up. I had passed the test.