” Grant to thy faithful people pardon and peace…” Words from Evening Prayer or Evensong. As a benediction at the end of a day or a week it’s hard to better. I rather like the idea of having this on my headstone. Along with “Go not gently into that dark night” and Winnicott’s ” I hope I’m alive when I die.” ( I’m going to need a lot of space on my headstone!) It seems a lovely way of summing up all the hopes and wishes that we hold for someone.
In my counselling work I often want to offer this blessing to so many of my patients. It’s an aspect of the work that many of us perform. Pronouncing a blessing for our patients. It forms an Amen at the end of a session. A way of affirming our belief in our patient and in the work.
” Pardon and peace” are so often absent in my patients worlds. Angry men who are the sons and grandsons of violent men. Anxious and depressed women who are the product of mothers and grandmothers who were anxious and depressed. The pardon and peace they need to hear has never been spoken. What they heard was rage, bravado. A refusal of any sign of vulnerability or need. ( This is mostly the case in those men who come to me for Anger Management. Being the hard man was more acceptable than being able to be “needy”.)
The women who come bringing their anxiety and depression are often just as trapped in a story about how they should be. “Seen and not heard” is often how they feel treated. (Underlying their depression is a rage equal to any ” anger management” men. Simply that women so often internalise their distress where men are more prone to act it out.)
It seems that giving oneself the gift of “Pardon and peace” takes a deal of courage. “Do I deserve it? What does it mean? Can I keep hold of it?” Kierkegaard talked of the Leap of Faith. He was thinking of God. As a counsellor my task is a little easier. I invite my patients to trust that our work together can result in Pardon and peace.
Paul Tillich described God as the Ground of our Being. Perhaps this where we arrive when we receive and grant Pardon and Peace. We find the Ground of our Being. Whatever that Ground might look like.