Lifetimes

How preposterous to think I would host a reunion of old enemies; I barely host gatherings of friends anymore.

Sometimes your imagination runs away with you. In my mind’s eye: old foes sitting in my midst with their spouses and children, while I serve them tea, while we laugh at what fools we were back then, recounting all that has happened in the intervening decades.

What fictions. These folk had such a profound impact on me back then that I never forgot their names. But the reverse: they didn’t even know mine. The epithets gora and geek sufficed, and I was then quickly forgotten. My interactions with them carried me into a lifelong journey of faith. Their interactions with me: they just laughed and walked away.

Perhaps I am just an over-sensitive fool. I have reached out to a multitude to apologise for moments in the distant past, but none had a clue what I was talking about. Only a few remembered me at all, let alone the source of my anguish and regret. This only reveals how self-centred I am: thinking others should remember me.

Of course, decades have passed us by. We have all lived whole lives since then. Some married, had kids and are now divorced. Families have broken down; elderly parents and grandparents have passed away. We migrated all over, coming here and there. We lived through the War on Terror, twenty-years of career development, natural disasters, inner conflict. Of course it is preposterous that a self-centred soul appears twenty-eight years later to declare: “I forgive you for all that happened then; please forgive me too.”

What has happened in my life in that time? I moved to London for study. I embraced the path of the One. I moved to Scotland for further study. I moved back to London for work. I was introduced to my beloved. We were married in Ealing. We married again in Istanbul. I was made redundant. I struggled with unemployment and low-paid jobs. I commenced my career late. I learnt of medical issues, difficult to grasp. We moved out of London. We adopted children. We raised a family. We migrated overseas. We migrated back again. We built a house. We lost friends. We made new ones. We had our ups and downs. On and on like this.

And so for the others I imagine would wander back into my midst, to share cake and tea for an afternoon, celebrated as the catalysts to my lifelong journey of faith, unbeknownst even to themselves. They too have lived lifetimes since then, rubbing shoulders with multitudes of friends and foe, relatives and in-laws. Surely it is only my ego which petitions me: “Surely they must remember you!” No, you were just a leaf, falling from a tree for the briefest of instants.

I can count who remembers me on my fingers. My wife, my children, my parents, a couple of friends, a couple of readers. On special occasions, we are remembered by our siblings, by family friends and colleagues. No, but we mostly wander in our own worlds, cut off from community and society at large, wayfarers on a path back to the One.

No, there will be no reunion now, neither of friends or foes, but there is a reunion to come, which I truly fear, on a fearsome day the like of which is fifty-thousand years. If I could make amends before that day, I surely would: to forgive and be forgiven, and to purify my heart of all of its nefarious traits. And “he is indeed successful who purifies it, and he is indeed a failure who neglects it.”

So perhaps it is better that I forgive in my heart, and pray that my Lord puts forgiveness in their hearts in return. No need to meet for tea and cake, and to exchange glances, and reawaken what was forgotten. Perhaps it is time to let go of what seemed so major to me, but which was perhaps only minor or inconsequential to others. I have not taken a soul, nor am I a thief or a brigand. May my Lord protect me from such evil.

May our Lord grant us better lifetimes, in which we find ourselves capable of reform, supplanting our ravaging ego with the One. May He grant us a reunion better than our wildest dreams.

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