Reflecting on his experience as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, the International Military Tribunal established at the end of WWII, Bernard Meltzer wrote, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”
The spiritual practice of atonement, asking and offering forgiveness, is a practice that actively builds and sustains a robust and healthy beloved community.When we are willing to take the risk of showing up to each other in all of our gloriously imperfect humanity and begin again and again in love – we are being faithful.
When we are willing to go deeper with our friends and family and neighbors, willing to understand their fears and difficulties – to do more than work with them side by side for years without knowing what causes them pain or brings them joy– we are being faithful.
In Jewish tradition, the Book of Life is sealed on Yom Kippur, not to be reopened for another year at Rosh Hashanah. For Unitarian Universalists, the book is never sealed. Each day is an opportunity to begin again in love, repenting and offering forgiveness as often as is required for the health and well-being of this beloved community.
What harm have you caused in the past year that requires repentance? What do you need to forgive yourself for? Who needs your forgiveness?