The second Peace Soup gathering on February 27 was titled "Where there is injury, pardon." Sue Peters, a retired minister at Unity Center in Clinton, and Dr. Art Donart, a Clinton Franciscan Associate, a retired deacon and a retired chaplain for the Clinton County Jail and Mercy Hospital, facilitated the event for the audience of ninety-six people.
Rev. Peters told three stories of forgiveness: Joseph and his coat of many colors, Nelson Mandela, and Jameel McGee. She stressed that forgiveness for each was years in the making. For Joseph it was the many years he was with the pharaoh. For Mandela, she explained, paraphrasing Bishop Desmond Tutu, "it took 27 years to transform him from an angry, young, unforgiving, radical into an icon of reconciliation, forgiveness, and honor that would go on to lead a country back from the brink of a civil war and self-destruction." For McGee, "They needed that time in jail to come together," she said, referring to the three years he served in prison for a crime he didn't commit in addition to the time his accuser served for falsifying police records. "From Deepak Chopra we're told 'forgiveness in the heart comes about when the wall of separation in the mind falls.'"
Dr. Donart shared a story about sowing seeds of peace while living and working in Thailand - done so with the monetary generosity of others from home, many of whom, he said, were in the room that night. While in Thailand he taught English at a school in an impoverished area that was half Buddhist and half Muslim. When asked to teach Christian concepts he did so by translating the Prayer of St. Francis into Thai and found it was well liked by both the Buddhists and the Muslims.
With donations from home, Donart was able to build a workshop next to the school to teach welding and air conditioning repair. A few weeks ago he learned the workshop is still in operation. "I thought that was an expression of love that people like you made possible, and that sows peace," he said.
Highlights from the February 27 Peace Soup
Two types of forgiveness
In my research I found basically two types of forgiveness. There is the traditional forgiveness - the willingness to forgive but so is the other need that we hang on to sometimes and that is to condemn. Victim consciousness is maintained and nothing really changes. Victim consciousness is the conviction that someone else has done something bad to you and as a direct result they are responsible for the lack of peace and happiness in your life. Then there is radical forgiveness. That's the willingness to forgive but not the need to condemn. - Peters
Three stories of forgiveness
I'd like to share three stories of forgiveness. The first one happened thousands of years ago. The second one happened in the late 1990's. The third one happened very recently in 2015. Listen to hear evidence of compassion, tolerance, kindness in these stories. - Peters
Joseph and the coat of many colors
Forgiveness means letting go
When it comes to forgiveness we're not doing anybody a favor forgiving them. In fact most of the time they could care less. When Jesus was emphasizing forgiveness, Jesus really knew what he doing because when we hang on to that hatred, when we hang on to those grudges, it eats us up. It destroys us. Forgiveness is being able to let go. Once we let go whoever hurt us can't hurt us anymore. - Donart
Responses from tables - How do we sow peace?
"On a day-to-day basis the little things is step in the right direction."
"Just because you forgive someone it doesn't mean you change your ideals."
"Ask everyone to pray for peace."
"Bring God back to our schools."
"Dalai Lama reduced all words to kindness. We could create miracles if everyone was kind to each other."
"Be an example. Show you have goodness in your heart to one person at a time."
"Forgiveness is not something we do for someone else. We do it for ourselves so we will be at peace."
"Sometimes it takes a long time to bring peace where there has been hurt."