Drop the Rope

Today at sundown marks the start of an important day in the life of many of our camp families.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in English, is one of if not the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. It’s a day for examining your actions and thoughts over the previous year, asking for forgiveness from both God and those you’ve wronged, and pledging to do better. It’s also a day for charity.

Asking for forgiveness and atoning for one’s digressions is important. First, it shows that you recognize that you’ve done wrong. Second, it allows forgiveness to enter into the equation – both you forgiving yourself and allowing the other you’ve wronged to do the same.

Sometimes, this means letting go of anger or jealousy or contempt or fear. Carrying those emotions around is like a big block tied around your neck that you’ve got to lug around. Recognize what it is, ask for forgiveness, set that puppy down and walk away from it!

That leads me to story that is applicable and, I hope, useful for you.

Elephants May Not Forget….

A few years ago, a family traveled to India to learn more about the country and culture. In their travels, they stopped at an elephant preserve where, they were told, one could walk very close to the enormous beasts.

As they entered, the father noticed the attendants walking the world’s largest and most powerful animal around by a short length of rope.

Concerned for their safety, the father cried out, “What are you doing?! That elephant can snap the rope anytime it wants and trample us all!”

“Sir,” the attendant replied, “please calm down and let me explain.

You see, when all the elephants here are born, we place a rope around their leg and tie the other end to a large tree. The young elephant is not strong enough to break the rope or move the tree.

Over time, the elephant learns that the rope controls it and this knowledge changes the elephant forever. While it’s certainly strong enough to break the rope, these elephants don’t know it.”

Drop the Rope

Imagine that – a small rope holding back one of the most powerful animals in the world. If the elephant only knew, it would be off to the races and fast!

But, the elephant would have to recognize the rope for what it truly is – a small thing, which could easily be broken or dropped, that has been given inordinate power over their actions and beliefs.

How about you? What ropes have you allowed to be placed on your leg (by others or yourself) that are holding you back? How you deal with your friends or family? Feeling guilty about something in the past or future? Being angry, lazy, rude, or jealous?

Regardless of your beliefs, spending a hour or day thoughtfully reviewing your past deeds and atoning for transgressions is a useful and beneficial practice. It will lead you to places you may not want to visit inside yourself or with others. However, the power of forgiveness is an awesome thing and I wish you all to experience it.

Talk with you next week.

(This story came from Joshua Medcalf’s Pound the Stone. I highly recommend it to all.)