These boats have timber seats, planks thwart the boat. Otherwise known as thwart seats because they cross from side to side. They are a seat , but only rudimentary, their true purpose is to act as a reinforcing brace that helps provide a rigidity to the boat’s frame, so a thwart seat is a double-bonus, seat and brace in one.
I came to this example of thwart while at the same time I had been reflecting on forgiveness. The more common understanding of thwart is to obstruct, to stymie, or block someone or an action. When we don’t or won’t forgive, then we thwart ourselves, we block ourselves.
There are many serious quotes on forgiveness, one that I like is from the Greater Good magazine from UC Berkeley: “Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” The upshot of this is that we unblock when we forgive, we help and enable ourselves to move on from the anger and pain. So forgiveness is about ourselves and not the other. When I forgive, the other may never know, but in the act of forgiving, even from afar, I am indeed releasing the anger, the revenge and the pain, I’m stepping away from the negative. And as a result I feel better, whole. And sometimes that enables me to reframe a relational conflict and bring healing into it, so that there can be reconciliation. Again, that’s because I have done the work in myself, I am transformed and able to meet the other, to enable the other, as such it is a double-bonus.
Forgiveness is not unlike the thwart seat, it spans from one side of a relationship to another, it bridges opinion and blockage, and most importantly, forgiveness supports me, and helps to hold me together when I’d rather take negative attitudes or actions. Without the thwart seat of forgiveness in our lives there is nowhere to place ourselves in conflict that has any positive way forward. As vessels we are fragile beings and we really do need forgiveness to be able to reconcile, heal and grow. Forgiveness is a gift to our selves, and yet also to the other, even though they may never know. Forgiveness strengthens us.