The gift of forgiveness

Someone wrote to Dear Abby yesterday suggesting that the greatest gift this time of year was the gift of forgiveness. It’s free. It fits all shapes and sizes. And everyone needs it, the giver as much as the receiver. But forgiveness isn’t something that can be given without a shift in the heart that is often times beyond our human capacity. We like to hold onto our slights. We steer clear of the hard work of making things right with those who we’re not entirely sure deserve it.

Last year we participated in a challenging study called Peacemakers in which they clarified something about forgiveness. “It’s not a matter of forgetting, but rather a commitment to never bring it up again.” And just like that, we let it go, freeing those entangled in anger and disappointment to move forward in grace.

I don’t know about you, but there are people I need to forgive this year. I find that when I’m feeling mulish, a little humor helps loosen my grip. To that end, I share with you one of my favorite poems, a short verse by Scott Cairns:

On Slow Learning

If you have ever owned
a tortoise, you already know
how terribly difficult
paper training can be for some pets.

Even if you get so far
as to instill in your tortoise
the value of achieving the paper,
there remains one obstacle—
your tortoise’s intrinsic sloth.

Even a well-intentioned tortoise
may find himself, in his journeys,
to be painfully far from the mark.

Failing, your tortoise may shy away
for weeks within his shell, utterly
ashamed, or looking up with tiny,
wet eyes might offer an honest shrug.
Forgive him.

Blessings on this Friday in Advent,

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