On How Elephants Can Escape Their Chains, and We Can Too

raja the elephant

Elephants, majestic, loveable, gentle beasts, are tamed by cruel means I hate reading about in Thailand, principally, in Nepal, in India and in Malaysia.

A common trick, less cruel than the others though, is this. The elephant is initially chained to a tree with heavy chains. Later, however, the mahouts don’t bother to attach the chain to the tree. The elephant, however, stands motionless or paces for long hours believing himself to be chained. However, all it takes for him to be free is to gallop away; he can trample those who cruelly abused him and crushed his spirit while he was chained.

That’s us sometimes, chained when we can so easily be free.

* * *

The biggest chain which binds people to ugliness they do not wish to be bound to?

It is when we cannot forgive, and so people who do not deserve that honour inhabit our hearts and emotions.

* * *

One way to tell what a blogger, or preacher, struggles with is to scroll through a few years of her posts or sermons. We write our obsessions. We teach best what we need to learn the most.

Forgiveness, very sadly, does not come easily to me.

* * *

How do we cut the chains that bind us? How do we forgive?

We need the grace of God. Forgiveness is as hard to accomplish by an act of will as breaking a drug, alcohol or nicotine addiction by an act of will (though all of these are possible).

Forgiveness is terribly hard, and when you have done so, you have the same relief as when you have tidied a cluttered room.

You sleep so soundly. You sleep so deeply. You sleep so well.

* * *

This is the best way I know of cutting the chains which bind you to those who have injured you. You say, “Yes, you have sinned against me; you have deceived me; you have lied about me… whatever, whatever. But I will not hold it against you. I will even pray that God blesses all the goodness in you and uses it for his Kingdom. My raw emotions sometimes feel that you deserve to be cursed not blessed, but I do not want the toxins of such sentiments in my mouth or heart. So I bless you in the name of Jesus. Go and be blessed.”

Phew. And in those simple words, the act of blessing, you are free.

* * *

And tomorrow, your tiny un-elephant brain may forget the beautiful resolutions of today, the glorious transaction of today, and get all bitter again.

Don’t be surprised, dear reader. It’s par for the course. It’s called being human.

So, dear one, do it all over again. Cut the chain of grievance once again. Pray blessing on those who have injured you once again. It does not seem that they deserve it, but you, oh child of God, deserve peace, oh yes, you do.

Do it for Jesus. Do it for you.


Get all my posts quietly in your inbox by entering your email:

On “Defining Decisions” Rather Than New Year’s Resolutions


Image Credit Mark Batterson, in  The Circle-Maker, a fascinating book on a prayer, praises “defining decisions,” that set the course of your life, sort of like choosing whether you drive to Slovenia (which our family did last summer), or to Scotland … [Continue reading]

When I almost missed the Uffizi Gallery, Florence


The Doni Tondo, a rare canvas painting by Michealangelo. Scroll down for more images. I spent the first Sunday of January 2106 at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was free, and advice online, as well as unsolicited advice on Facebook warned me … [Continue reading]

A week in France (Boulogne-sur-Mer, St-Denys, Chartres, and Paris)


I am looking at a year's worth of photographs in this liminal week between Christmas and New Year. Here are some images from the Channel Port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, a medieval French walled town, with narrow cobbled streets. We walked along the … [Continue reading]

The 10 Most Read Posts of 2015 on Dreaming Beneath the Spires


Image credit This is the lazy liminal period between Christmas and New Year, time for a psychologically healthy Ignatian Examen of the previous year—the highs and the lows; what we did well occupationally, spiritually, physically and relationally, … [Continue reading]

Analysing my Experience of Prayer over the Last 19 Years

alone on a lake

So I come to my time of prayer, and I am dry and distracted. My thoughts are whirling; I cannot hear God speak, and I have nothing to say. My spirit feels numb. Prayer? It’s as if you are having coffee with a friend you haven’t seen for a while, … [Continue reading]

On a Shortcut into Happiness


When we sleep, I have read, the unconscious begins to process, resolve, and heal the buried emotions of the day. That little inadvertent thing which seemed so massively embarrassing, but which everyone else has forgotten. The awkwardness, the … [Continue reading]

Is “ending those Muslims,” as Falwell advises, the way of Jesus? Aren’t there other ways?

So the President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., patting the gun in his back pocket, has called on the 14,500 students of Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian University, to carry concealed guns, and “end those Muslims,” … [Continue reading]