New Years is my absolute favorite holiday! I love starting a new, fresh year that is like a giant white canvas…clean and ready for new strokes of color and new lines of definition. It has been my practice the last decade or so to make sure to have a meaningful transition heading into the new year which has included IHOP onething conferences, hanging out with friends or family, or even working on fun, creative projects as what transpired this past New Years.

An interesting twist to this New Years was something that inserted itself into my consciousness about two weeks before the turn of the year. A thought came that was something like “forgive everyone before year end.” I loved this idea as I’ve experienced the freedom forgiveness can bring when I release offenses and expectations of people that are hindering my love for them…I’ve even applied this forgiveness to myself. Although I try to be conscious and intentional of this, I know there are times I forget and do not realize or am unwilling to acknowledge when I’m holding something against others.

So, I was willing…and its amazing how it still took a week to actually get to it. I had pulled a booklet off my bookshelf to read to ready my heart called The Importance of Forgiveness by John Arnott and finally started to read. I had only gotten to about page two when it hit…my first one to forgive came to mind. Spiders. Yes, you read that right…spiders. Now this may seem very bizarre and ridiculous to you but I knew exactly what it meant for me…

Spiders are my friends?

Growing up I had been very allergic to bug bites, bee stings, etc. My childhood holds lots of memories of Elixir of Benadryl which at one point may have even saved my life. One memory is of me at about age seven or eight walking in the dusk down a sidewalk with my parents. There was a tree stump next to the sidewalk and as I was not walking fully on the sidewalk I tripped over an exposed root I had not seen and fell onto the stump. My leg started to itch almost immediately and by the time we had walked to the car, where we were headed, and got home my leg was quite swollen. At that point I was able to see the tell tale signs of a spider bite. Even with the Benadryl it was a few days before I could wear my knee socks again because they could not be pulled up over my swollen calf. This memory is one of many but the one that has stayed in my mind as my reason for not liking spiders…and mosquitoes, and bees…all of whom I have been a victim.

Isn’t that funny, as an adult I can see that bugs are just a part of nature and they weren’t “out to get me” as it were. Yet, in my heart as a child I was constantly having to be on the alert and deal with the consequences of these small members of creation bringing pain and discomfort. As I sat in the living room thinking back over the history I’ve had with spiders I forgave them and released them from all that I was holding against them. I then realized there was an invitation in that moment for me to have a new relationship with spiders. One based not on fear but on respect for another member of creation. I also realized something else…that I had been holding a bigger offense against nature in general. Who knew? My relationship with nature as an adult has always had a “once removed” element to it. This is not to say I haven’t spent time in nature as I’ve had my share of adventures and primitive living. No, it was more about my heart connection with nature…a realization that even when I had tried, I was not able to commune consistently with nature in the ways I had yearned for.

Why? I was afraid of being hurt. Just like those bug bites as a child had seemed so big and dangerous at the time, my view of their power and impact had not changed even though I had mostly grown out of those allergies. So the time has come for a fresh start in 2010 with my relationship not only with spiders but with nature and the natural world. I’m very excited about this and am looking forward to getting to know and commune with creation this year.

What about you? Is there someone or something you need to forgive for the sake of your own freedom and joy this year? Even if its small and “silly” like spiders it might be the key to unlocking your heart for something beautiful to happen this year. Go for it…its worth it! Let it go