NOTE: I have a bunch of these spiritual exercises in River of Grace called Flow Lessons and I thought I would share them with you. Give it a try and see what happens!
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Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper; a large sink or bathtub; a small, empty Tupperware; various small objects that will not be harmed should they get wet
Note: If you belong to a faith tradition that practices the sacraments (such as the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal or Orthodox faiths), making use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession/Absolution is the best place to start when dealing with regrets. The kind counsel of the priest coupled with the reception of sanctifying grace provides true spiritual healing. The value of this exercise is for any leftover regrets you were unable to release after reception of the sacrament.
This may be a difficult exercise so you will want to take some extra time to be in the presence of God. Use previous practices such as slow breathing, birds flying away from a tree or placing objects in a bag to clear your mind of cares and anxieties.
There are times in our lives when we feel we have fallen short in our actions, failing to do our best for someone we love or even doing something that caused harm to that person. This can cause a tremendous burden of guilt and regret. Even if others disagree with our assessment of our actions, our own perception is what is real to us. We may have even already confessed our shortfall but still feel burdened with regret. With all this in mind, take a moment to recall any regrets in your life with regards to failing someone you loved (just as I regretted not being more present to my mother’s immediate needs). Write them down.
Preparing to release your regrets
Regrets are burdens that need to be off loaded and released; this exercise will provide a concrete means to do so. Taking your list, go to the sink or bathtub and fill it with water (consider using the bathtub as it will make the exercise more effective). Take a small Tupperware and place it in the water. Have your objects in a pile next to your paper. Pick up an object and assign it something from your list, speaking that something out loud. For example: “I would not kiss my mother.” Place the object in the Tupperware. Do this for every item on your list. After doing so, place your list in the Tupperware as well.
Push them away …
Pull the Tupperware towards the edge of the sink or bathtub (in essence, anchoring it). Closing your eyes, imagine yourself sitting on a dock next to Jesus, leaning in to him. You and he are swinging your feet over a large barge filled to the brim with heavy rubble. Imagine looking into Jesus’ eyes and saying the following prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Say this prayer out loud several times. As you say the prayer, imagine the Lord pointing to your feet and instructing you to place them on the rim of the barge; he is doing the same. Imagine yourself pushing the barge away with the Lord and watching it float downstream and out of site.
… and give thanks
Open your eyes and release your Tupperware, pushing it slowly away; in effect releasing all of those objects labeled with your regrets. As you watch it float away, say, “Thank you Jesus for releasing my burden” for each object in that Tupperware (even if that thank you does not yet feel genuine).
Pray and ponder …
Take a moment to be still with God, and reflect upon what has just occurred. If you feel so inclined, write down your impressions. Thank God for forgiving you and for taking from you the burden of your regrets.
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 2 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press
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