Reconcile with your brother and sister
I gave more thought to Jesus’ direction that we reconcile ourselves to anyone who we have offended before coming to the altar. I find it interesting that he did not say go forgive those who have offended us but rather, seek forgiveness from those we have offended. Only then can we find peace. It suggests to me that I always have a part in any conflict or disharmony that I may experience, even if my part is one of misperception, judgement or blame. Anytime I see someone as less than God sees them, I will inevitably do something to offend them. It may be a slight inflection in my voice, or a look or a turn of my body but something about my behavior will be offensive towards them.
This direction tells me that my focus is to be on me and how I am interacting with others. My peace comes from how I show-up in the world and has very little to do with what others say or do. This can be a hard pill to swallow because it makes us accountable for our behavior.
The good news is that this commandment empowers us. It suggests that our peace of mind is entirely up to us. We don’t have to wait for others to change in order for us to be happy. It says that we can find the peace that passes all understanding when we acknowledge and change the way we interact with others. We have complete control over how we experience life by how we treat others.
This spiritual discipline continually brings me back to the mantra introduced by Gary Simmons in “I of the Storm” “There is no one or nothing against you.” Anytime I have placed someone out of my heart for whatever reason, I have offended them and have left the altar of my heart. Those are simply the facts. It is not that there is some God outside of us that we have to please with our actions, it is about creating the kind of existence that we want. I can confidently say that we all want a life of joy, wholeness, abundance, love. These qualities are always available to us when we tap into the altar of the Divine within all of us. The only way we can access our altar is to be clear of the things that interfere with our ability to connect with it.
So, this passage to me is about keeping my side of the street clean, deciding how I want to show up with people, choosing love and graciousness no matter what. As that becomes my practice, my heart is clean and it becomes easier to stay deeply connected to the altar of my being.