A decade ago, on an early December day, I received a call from the local funeral director. A man from the neighboring town had died after an extended illness. He was a Vietnam veteran who had long suffered symptoms of trauma from his war experience. The family had no pastor: was I available? I was grateful for the opportunity. Meeting with his family, I received a deeper sense of the man, his substance, the impact of his life on those closest to him. What I remember most vividly, however, are his memorial service and the viewing that was held the night before. The latter took place at the funeral home, and was filled with fellow veterans. They were transparent in their woundedness, comforting the family...
“Why is it worth it to continue?,” Patricia Garcia, President of CoMadres in El Salvador, is asked. Paty responds as a survivor of abduction, rape, and torture. She speaks as someone who had to flee from the threat of death even as a child, and as the citizen of a nation still bearing the wounds of horrific violence; someone who has lost family, friends, and fellow members of her community along the way. Yet there is more to her story. From her tender years she was also nurtured in a different way of life, a path of fidelity and love, and she grew to become a key leader in an unquenchable movement for justice and healing in her beautiful and broken land. In this...
“You took something precious away from me . . . I will never talk to her again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me and you hurt a lot of people. But I forgive you.” The gracious words from the daughter of Ethel Lance to Lance’s murderer, Dylann Roof, are enough to make one gasp in awe, or perhaps even horror. Roof stood motionless in a video bail hearing as family members of his victims addressed him. “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible Study with open arms,” Felicia Sanders, mother of 26-year-old Tywanzaa Sanders, reminded Roof;”You have killed some of the beautifullest people that I know. Every fiber...
God is a lover who receives everything, forgives everything. The Gospel says, “You will know the mystery of salvation through the forgiveness of sin” (Luke 1:77). “Fore-given” means being given to beforehand, before you earned it, were worthy of it, or maybe even asked for it. Forgiveness breaks down the entire world of meritocracy. –Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“The heart of forgiveness is not to be found in excusing harm or allowing it to go unchecked. It is found, rather, in choosing to say that although our wounds will change us, we will not allow them to forever define us. Forgiveness does not ask us to forget the wrong done to us but instead to resist the ways it seeks to get its poisonous hooks into us. Forgiveness asks us to acknowledge and reckon with the damage so that we will not live forever in its grip.” —Jan Richardson, in The Painted Prayerbook Image: Forgiving(c) Jan Richardson