Day 21: From Forgiveness to Freedom

Today’s readings

Do I want to forgive? Besides asking how many times to forgive, this is another question we all may ask at some point in our lives. Individually, we sometimes find ourselves standing in the middle of a hypothetical fire with that question coming on the heels of some personal transgression against us, serving as a stark, thought-provoking reminder of those who have harmed us. As a society, we seem to give little thought to how the illusion of forgiveness can play out positively as it relates to our systemic ills. 

Many citizens who have paid their debts to society are often released from prison only to find themselves still shackled: few options for housing, limited moral support, and bleak employment opportunities –  not necessarily because they lack the training, ability, or willingness to work, and not because they have no desire to become contributing members of society  –  but because they are still generally considered to be outcasts; because they have not been forgiven.

Yet, despite our society’s blindness and systemic barriers, there are some who manage to claim total freedom for themselves. A young man I know who spent several years behind bars recently shared his experience of receiving  “almost unbelievable opportunities, and people showing… incredible mercy” after his release. These graces were mixed with many rejections; but he sees his story as one of hope because an “attitude of gratitude allows you to see the hand of God working…”. He, like Azariah in today’s scripture readings, has a “contrite heart and humble spirit” and is attentive to the presence of God in the midst of fire (and life) and is refreshed through the healing waters of compassion.

Forgiveness can be a gift-laden, restorative journey for all of us as givers and receivers. On your journey to forgiveness, whose life can you restore and refresh?

3 replies
  1. Bob Slobig
    Bob Slobig says:

    Thank you for this one. I have been working to promote legislation in Illinois to provide better access to education, housing, employment, medical and mental health and other services for returning former offenders who have served their prison sentences. We’re doing this for exactly the reasons you mention, their experience of still being “shackled”. But I had never thought before of the aspect of forgiveness involved here. I can return to this work with renewed vigor.


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