I decided today to relay a story about forgiveness and the relevance of 18 in the Jewish faith. As fate and my God would have it I had a conversation with one of my favorite humans who also happens to be Jewish and low and behold he enlightened me further on the spiritual number of 18 in the jewish faith. I love it when life happens this way.
As the story was told by Anne Lamott and relayed by me….. Here we go. Anne Lamott has been sober for a number of years but as most alcoholics she had much wreckage of her past to clean up. One of her shortcomings as a practicing alcoholic was finding herself with married men and causing havoc for herself and them and their families.
She felt led to make amends to a woman named Esther whose husband she had an affair with. Esther was kind and gracious and forgave her. When she forgave her she also gave her a bundle of quarters totalling 18 cents as a token of her forgiveness towards Anne. She explained that the number was sacred in the jewish faith and Anne held on to this as a reminder when she was apt to not be so forgiving.
Anne shared that when she finds herself wanting to withhold forgiveness to a fellow being, she reaches into her pocket and clutches the taped up symbol of forgiveness. She knows in that moment that if Esther could forgive her so freely then she in turn can not withhold that to others.
Fast forward and I am telling my friend about my idea for a blog and he shared with me that 18 is a number in the Jewish faith that symbolizes life. He also shared that his grandmother would always give him a housewarming gift each time he would move. The gift would be a box that she could then slip in 18 cents!!! This was a fond memory of his grandmother and this was a tradition that was a bond between them.
18 Cents symbolizing life and reminding us to embrace life and to cherish it in its fullness as we are called to love and forgive each other. The older I am the more enthralled I am in the stories and traditions of my fellow travelers.
Perhaps you have someone that needs a taped-up symbol of forgiveness. Or perhaps you can think of a time when without merit you were given a chance at life and forgiveness. In whatever package we offer it, grace and forgiveness will always give us more life!!!!