Detachment & Forgiveness

Photo by Amine M’Siouri from Pexels

The last year or so, the word “detachment’ has been popping up everywhere. In theory, I totally understand the concept. Detachment means not to be tied to the things of the world.

But what does that look like where the rubber meets the road? I can say with high confidence that I am not addicted to power. That I have zero use for fancy cars and the newest gadgets and the biggest house. (It is never far from my mind that the bigger the house, the bigger the cleaning job. Practicality is a great help in this kind of detachment!)

So I could rest on my laurels and say I’ve got it nailed. Except if that were the case, I have a feeling this word, “Detachment,” would not have been scrolling across my feed so routinely in the last few months.

I have come to realize that where I struggle with detachment is in the passion for justice and seeing God’s will done in tangible, concrete ways on the earth. I get angry a lot. Anger seems to me like a pretty good indicator that one is not “detached.” And the desire for earthly justice is, by definition, a thing of the world.

So here is the question I am pondering these days: how does one balance righteous anger—such as Jesus showed in the Temple, obviously, but also in the blistering critiques he leveled at the religious authorities of his day—with detachment? Righteous anger is what fuels the desire to work for justice. How does one maintain the drive to work for justice while at the same time remaining detached?

A few weeks ago, my good friend Lorraine Hess gave a mission at our parish, and one thing she said really stuck with me. Forgiveness, she said, is choosing not to be controlled by our wounds.

Those words sounded a gong that reverberated in my whole body, and I thought, “THAT’S what detachment is!”

Recognizing it doesn’t mean I have achieved it, though. And now I know that I have stepped onto a new path in my spiritual journey, one that I will be following for some time to come.

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