Monday, April 10, 2023

Kyrie Eleison (An Easter essay about Kangaroos, cars and self-forgiveness)

For years I have tried to make a point to write an essay around Easter time. It’s not for religious reasons or anything like that. It’s just, Easter always signified the beginning of spring for me in the US. The end of a long winter. And perhaps more than that, a chance to clear the slate and find a sense of renewal.

That’s what the Easter holiday seemed to be about to me. Forgiveness and starting over. The “Kyrie” as a Catholic kid meant “lord have mercy.” You confess your sins and then you get forgiven and get the chance to do better. Although I’ve dropped the religion, I never really dropped the lesson.

And as a child of the 80’s, the song “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister was also quite popular at the time. I have always held the phrase in my mind. Kyrie Eleison.

  The lyrics of the song went like this.

‘When I was young, I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be?

Kyrie eleison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison where I'm going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison on a highway in the night’

So why am I telling you this?

As it so happens, I was driving on a dark, Australian, ocean road the other night and this song came on. I started belting it out as loud as I could. My own little carpool Karaoke.

And then I saw it. A huge Kangaroo directly in the middle of the road that didn’t seem inclined to move.

Lord have mercy.

I swerved at the last minute and narrowly avoided killing both the Kangaroo and myself. It was just one of those lucky things.

At least I think it was lucky. I’m not ruling out it was something else.

As I say, I’m not the religious type anymore, and it’s not the point of this essay to get into why. Spirituality is a complicated thing in a person’s life.

But I still believe in the message of Easter. Forgiveness. Atonement. Renewal, Starting over.

And I can tell you, when I pulled over to the side of the road in that moment, I thought about all of those things. It wasn’t exactly a “near-death” experience, but things could have certainly gone badly there. I briefly pictured the headline. “American psychologist tragically dies in Kangaroo encounter.”

Not exactly the way I wanted to go.

But as with anything, I also wanted to think about the lesson. I often talk to my clients about releasing themselves from shame and guilt through the act of self-forgiveness. Learning to accept they are human and sometimes are going to say and do things they are going to regret. Personally I have a “greatest hits" list of these things that likes to play when I am trying to sleep in the middle of the night. I think many of us have such a playlist.

So this Easter, I vow to practice this self-forgiveness. To let things go. To give myself this sense of renewal.

Sure it took an 80’s song and a Kangaroo to remind me, but better late than never.

So in closing I will leave you with a quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda-

"How long are you going to keep carrying that one conversation in your heart?
The one where you said or did the exact wrong thing?
 It's DONE. Nothing left but to learn. Drag it to the trash file. Click 'empty trash'

Yes, you're sure.

Free up that heart of yours."

Amen to that.

And Kyrie Eliison on the road that you must travel.