I learned a remarkable word today while reading the Shepherd of Hermas, a second century Christian text of great importance to the early church. The word is amnesikakos. Its a compound word made up of two greek words, amnesia and kakos. Amnesia is just what it sounds like: forgetfulness. Kakos is the Greek word for evil or bad. When put together, the word has the meaning of forgetting the bad, or forgiveness. Here’s how the Shepherd of Hermas uses it:
“For God is not as men who bear malice, but is himself without malice [amnesikakos], and has mercy on that which he made. Therefore purify your heart from all the vanities of this world, and from the words which were spoken to you before-hand, and ask from the Lord, and you shall receive all things, and shall not fail to obtain any of your petitions, if you ask from the Lord without doubting.”
While forgiveness is God’s very nature, our minds tend to be storing houses for hurtful comments, slights and other wounding words. By means of prayer, especially intercession and contemplative silence, we can learn to make our minds more porous, more able to release the thoughts that bind us or keep us boiling mad. Prayers for mercy may settle our minds a bit more each day.
Resolve: For today, when I find myself holding onto words that mean no good, I will turn to God in prayer–asking for my own forgiveness and for that of others. I will include in my petitions those by whom I may feel wounded, and strive to set aside time for silent prayer.