During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.
The word designated for February 22nd is “Forgiveness.”
In worship this morning, the gospel passage that was assigned from the Narrative Lectionary was Matthew 18:15-22 (and actually also included verses 23-35). Coincidentally with the makers of the photo a day, this passage is all about forgiveness. In hearing this passage, verses 21 and 22 stand out.
“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but I tell you seventy-seven times.”
What’s on my mind today is just the sheer challenge it can be to forgive. Not only is it hard to forgive others who might disappoint us or seemingly let us down, it is equally (and often more so) difficult to forgive ourselves. This past year, being able to forgive myself was a big personal learning which I have written about before.
The pictures included here today remind me of what forgiveness can be like. It can be a bit hard and mysterious to do it, and sometimes you don’t know where it might lead. It can be a bit foggy or seemingly distant, like in these pictures taken along the North Shore of Lake Superior. But at the same time, forgiveness is freeing because there are possibilities beyond the visible horizon, in admitting the need for forgiveness and being able to give words to that, or words to another and being able to forgive. It’s also comforting to feel the damp fog, as it reminds me of home, but also feels like a friendly hug and hello, which are feelings that can come with the gift of forgiveness.
Once admitting the need to forgive, and letting God work within us to help us forgive each other and ourselves frees us to love and live more deeply and hopefully. It’s not always easy, kind of like its not always easy to walk out to an edge of a precipice like Allison is sitting on in this picture. At the same time, coming to God (and each other) frees us to be more aware of the beauty that surrounds us. It frees us to be more hopeful for what might just be ahead, but it also allows us to remember where we are and be grateful for how we got there.
What do you seek forgiveness for? What or whom do you need to forgive this day?