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Ceremonies: “Meditation on Forgiveness (a ritual for Yom Kippur)

Note: This ritual involves writing grievances on a piece of paper and casting them into a flame.

All our lives we have been told to seek that which is good,
to turn our faces from the dark and toward the light,
toward beauty, toward truth.

But the truth is that the world is not always good.
The light we seek casts shadows,
and there is brokenness amid the beauty.
Our world is far from perfect, and so are we.

We strive to be in right relations with one another,
but there are times when we are left angry or disappointed,
even as we sometimes anger or disappoint others.

Whether it is the harsh words said by a loved one,
the loss of a friendship,
the carelessness of a stranger,
or the scars left by a childhood trauma,
Bad things do happen.

We cannot seek Truth, Beauty, and Light
without acknowledging and affirming
that which is false, broken, and in shadow,
for all of these exist within us as well.

In this moment of silence let us remember the wrongs we have endured,
the imperfections that we have perpetuated,
that we may forgive them and ourselves, and forgive yet again.
And in the times of music and readings to follow,
let us write our resentments,
give form to our grievances,
and bring them forward to burn.

For like our anger, the flames may burn and destroy,
but like our love, the flames may also cleanse and purify.
Let us undertake the work of forgiving ourselves and each other,
that we may begin again in love.

Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.

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Last updated on Monday, March 25, 2013.

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