Posted by Rev Lucy
Posted on February 7, 2018
This month in our circles we will explore forgiveness. Each of us have had some experience with this concept, whether big or small. Someone forgets to hold the door for you when you are exiting a building, or your spouse forgets to pick up something at the grocery – these are simple mistakes where a quick “no problem” can complete the circle from error to forgiveness. Small forgiveness.
Bigger forgiveness is required when the transgressions are greater. In these cases, forgiveness is a process for the one who has been hurt, and process that may take years, or may never resolve. We may hold onto our pain or our grudge for years, waiting for the other person to ask for amends, waiting for some resolution to our pain.
Those of us who have been oppressed by religion in our past may have negative associations with the idea of forgiveness. If we were told that we were sinners who needed to be forgiven, we may not be able to find comfort or relief in the concept. But I encourage you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If we relate to the UU theology of the interdependent web, an act of forgiving, or asking for forgiveness is a way of repairing a tear in our relationships, a tear in the web.
In the Jewish tradition, one asks for forgiveness to make things right in their heart and in their relationship. They are not asking God for forgiveness, but rather the person they have wronged. This reconciliation can help restore them to wholeness in themselves and in their community. However, it is possible to forgive someone without their asking – without them even participating. This is the form of forgiveness that can liberate us from suffering.
And of course, one of the most powerful acts of forgiveness is forgiving ourselves. As humans we make mistakes, we say hurtful things, we misrepresent or lie, we make bad choices, we are selfish, we hurt others, we do things that cause damage. This is a quality of being human on our earth. We can hold ourselves accountable, and love and forgive ourselves at the same time. This is the task of our lives.
I have chosen two pieces for supplemental readings this month that I hope you will appreciate. Both are about men forgiving their fathers. Please don’t hesitate to share any materials on this topic that are meaningful to you – either post in the comments or send to me.
I wish you deep reflection in your circle time this month.