A child has grown!
She has always danced to the tune of her own fiddle, both literally and figuratively. When ready to embark upon her Ethical Culture "Coming of Age," she took on one of the challenging human quests: Forgiveness. She asks the question of its meaning to people openly, holding space with equanimity, for all kinds of answers -- thoughtfully absorbing, contemplating.
In the fall of 2014, this wisdom child and I convened, as we had for many years before at the Ethical Education Annual Retreat in Stoney Point. She had been my student as a young girl, and now, housed in different ethical societies, we are always very joyful to find one another there! She joined me in a SPEED DEED workshop I was leading, to invite the community of ethical educators taking the workshop to engage in a "doable deed" of forgiveness. She had collected many large colorful leaves from the ground, and upon them, she suggested we write with sharpie pens, the name of someone with whom (be it to or from) forgiveness might be a hoped for prospect. Release the leaves back into nature, let them go as, trees themselves have done. Let them go, literally and metaphorically. Let go of the leaf to enact the forgiveness named on the leaf.
"Letting go," is indeed a forgiveness mantra that resounds among many who contemplate the theme of forgiveness. It acknowledges an aspect of forgiveness many adults say they have taken decades to understand -- that forgiveness is largely a personal deed, an act of letting go for the sake of the self, an act of personal healing. Our forgiveness-researcher has wisdom far beyond her years. The Coming-of-Age year of her forgiveness quest is coming to its grand finale.
She invited community to gather at BSEC on Memorial Day weekend, to contemplate Forgiveness in colloquy-style. Bookended by her supporters, she towers tall above her Coming-of-Age mentor Simba Yangala and her Brooklyn Ethical advocate Tasha Paley. On this warm Sunday May morning, the large circle that gathered for colloquy included many adults and two teen peers. Our young leader invited the circle to contemplate forgiveness. With colloquy traditions scaffolding the morning, she brought out the best of the participants, encouraging us only to speak from our heart-felt "i" voice, and let us land in that voice through her own musical offering, a violin solo.
Forgiveness resonated for people primarily at the person-to-person level... at first. They could forgive someone, or not. Twice we gathered into smaller huddles to brew our thoughts with two or three in dialogue. However, like a dialogue can do, the momentum of wonder about Forgiveness spiraled upward and upward throughout the morning -- toward ever higher levels of thought and inquiry. We advanced organically from a go-around of "personal" versions of Forgiveness to ones increasingly more profound: historical, global, environmental, genocidal. We looked upon natural disasters and historical human sufferings -- facing the ways that, as Leader Emeritas, Lisel Burns describes "Forgiveness is like one wing, and Fighting -- or standing up for what's good -- is like the other wing, on the great bird of...." community, freedom, fairness.
A brave young woman steers her quest forth.
Simba, Zoe, Tasha.
The Forgiveness Team