It was a random text on a Sunday night.
“Hey, could we grab coffee tomorrow?”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“I just want to talk.”
I wasn’t ready for the conversation, but it was one I had played over in my head many times (some with trained professionals).
More than 30 years of fighting, self-hatred, and coping strategies with my closest brother. We just never really figured out how to love each other, despite different failed attempts.
Like the trees all around us, sipping coffee in the golden morning, our past slowly came falling down in little pieces and semi-symmetrical shapes.
It was honestly, the healthiest conversation we had ever had, but like the leaves, still felt a lot like death.
He looked me straight in the eye, the lens changing from green to orange and brown to blue.
“I’ve got a confession.”
“I just want to tell you that I am really sorry. I don’t know all the pain that I have caused, but I know that what I did and how I treated you was wrong. I knew it was wrong then and I did it anyway. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I love you, brother. I’m really sorry.”
I sort of fell into those words like a giant leaf pile, catching my body and holding me up from totally hitting the ground.
I wanted to wait as long as I could to hold that space. To honor his words and what it meant. To leave room for God.
“I forgive you. I’m sorry too,” I said.
I wasn’t the best brother either.
We talked about how our relationship often felt like a zero-sum game. The way love can feel scarce. How manipulative we can be. How violent. How angry. How short-sighted. How abusive.
Every shade of crisp brown and yellow shapes finding the earthy floor.
Fall feels like as good a time as any for forgiveness. To practice the dying and raking work of reconciliation, as exhausting and as impermanent as it is. It reminds us how cyclical and ongoing life is.
Of course, forgiveness doesn’t change everything overnight. We still have a lot of work to do in retethering and rebuilding our relationship.
We had a difficult time imagining a new way forward, but are committed, that with God’s help, there is new life, even if it takes all winter.
I didn’t know how much I was craving that conversation, but sometimes we just fall into the messy love that we need, like the giant leaf piles we used to make as kids growing up.
Trusting that like that strange mound of memories, God is still holding us up from hitting the ground.
And picking back up to start anew.
May it be a blessed Fall,