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Spiritual Preparation, Session 5: Forgiveness

In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program

Forgiveness is one of the most challenging and yet rewarding spiritual tasks we will encounter in our lifetimes. We all hold grudges in our hearts at one time or another that ultimately hurt our well being, and disconnect us from others.

To prepare for this session you may wish to do a short meditation to center yourself before contemplating the questions below. Sit quietly and take several slow deep breaths. Ground yourself in your body by acknowledging your face, shoulders, hands, seat on the chair, and your feet. Return your focus to your breathing, following its flow as it goes in and out. Ask yourself if you have anything on your mind that you need to forgive yourself for. Remind yourself that forgiving is not forgetting. Forgiving does not imply that you do not learn from your mistakes. It implies that you are human, and humans make mistakes. Think of what you would say to your closest friend if they had made this supposed transgression. Think of all the people in the world who have made this mistake. Summon all the compassion you can muster, and write this act on sand in your imagination, and let the winds of forgiveness blow it away.

Then ask yourself if you are holding grudges against others. Grudges and resentments come in all sizes, and it is best to start with the small ones. Maybe a friend forgot to call on your birthday, or someone at work has done something to upset you. See the person whom you are angry with or hurt by as human, and ask yourself if you have ever made a mistake such as this, or ever felt in a position where you could have made a mistake such as this. By joining with this person, you cultivate empathy, the first ingredient in forgiveness. Send this person compassion for their humanity. Imagine this "grudge" as a dark spot in your heart blocking light and love. Write that grudge in the sand in your imagination and let the winds of forgiveness blow it away.

Finally, think of an act of forgiveness that someone has given to you and write it in stone in your imagination. Then think of an act of forgiveness that you have given to someone else, and write it in stone also. Resolve to keep these in your heart. Take some time to sit with these images and feelings before returning your focus to your body, breathing and then opening your eyes.

It can also be helpful to walk through the Mussa and Nagib story in your imagination. Take time to picture the place where the story happens. Imagine that you are someone wandering by the stone at the river's edge years later. How does it feel to read what has been carved there? Let these experiences guide you in working with the children in this session.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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