I recently visited a friend in the hospice unit at one of our local hospitals. As I was talking with Bill, a gentleman walked into the room. Billbegan to cry and so did the gentleman. The gentleman leaned over the bedto embrace Bill. After a few moments the gentleman, Ken, said to me, "He'smy brother. We haven't spoken in over 25 years."

Caught by surprise by his comment, I said, "You're kidding me?"

"No," replied Ken. "We had an argument over a piece of property andhave been estranged from each other."

Bill said, "Ken, you haven't met my children."

Then Bill introduced his children to their uncle. I left the hospiceunit thinking, there's something wrong when we can't forgive. Life isshort and it's difficult to make up for all the time that has been lost.

This experience caused me to think the power of forgiveness and theneed for it in our lives. Sure, when someone says something or doessomething to cause us harm, it hurts. But we need to move beyond the hurt,to healing, which comes from forgiveness.

I like to think of forgiveness as the bold choice we make to clear outof our lives resentment, bitterness, anger, hatred, and revenge. We needto ask ourselves, "Do I want to waste precious time and energy carryingaround these nasty feelings?"

It's the unfinished business we may have with a spouse, parent, child,brother or sister, or friend which we need to take care of before it's toolate. Holding on to the past only weakens the relationship and keeps us frommending it and putting it back together.

When we refuse to forgive, the other person owns us. Often forgiveness is not for the other person, it's for us-to letit go and begin again.

Charlie came to see me about a problem he was having. He was angrywith his father for dying. He said, "He died just when I was getting toknow him as a buddy, a friend. We'd fish, hunt, and golf together. Nowit's all gone."

I told him, "You have unfinished business with your father. Go andtell him."

"He's dead," Charlie said, "How can I?"

I said, "Get in your car and go to the cemetery and tell him how angryyou are with him." He left me looking confused.

Two weeks later, Charlie came and told me, "I feel better. I drove tothe cemetery and stood over his grave and dumped my angry. Then I closedmy eyes and said to myself what I felt my dad would say. Wow, I neverrealized how much energy keeping all that anger inside can do to a person."

I agreed and applauded Charlie for what he did.

Forgiveness brings healing, freedom, and peace back into our lives.It opens our eyes to see what happened. It calls us to break down thewalls, stop the silent treatment and put an end to the cold war. One day,the roles of wronged and wrongdoer may be reversed.

Use today as an opportunity to open a door that has been closed toolong. Forgive. Let it go. Put it behind you and see how much better youwill feel.

Give it try.

It works.