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  • Susan Smith

Forgiven & Forgiving - an article by Rev. Susan

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

Unitarian Universalists lack a mechanism for putting our grudges aside like the Jewish High Holy Days or Roman Catholic confession. Insult, misunderstanding, disappointment, and misstep resonate in our formal meetings and chafe in our casual contacts if we do not set them aside. This Sunday we used the liturgy in our hymnal by Rob Eller-Isaacs to try to name what we wanted to forgive and that for which we wanted to be forgiven in an attempt to make a new start. Sometimes, we heard in what one person had written something that we also experience. Other times, we had no direct experience of what had been written but we empathized deeply with the pain expressed. Over and over again, we said together: "We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love."


But those are words. And merely words if we do not put action behind them. What I want you to know is that it is fine to fake the actions for the common good. Yes, fake it 'til you make it. If you've been shunning someone, say, "Hi." If you find yourself often talking about others, stop that and learn to talk about yourself and those who are actually in the conversation. If you suspect that someone is purposefully thwarting something you want or need, ask questions of them and get the facts. Assume good intentions. Don't touch other people's things. Use "I" language. You know, act like you are living under some best practices guidelines for interactions with others because the truth is that you are.


Unitarian Universalists live in covenantal communities. We stand and say almost every Sunday that we pledge "to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another." If we have failed to do this in the past as individuals and as a congregation (and we have), let us forgive ourselves and each other and begin again in love.