A Prayer for the Adventure

"Holy One, who is completely open to our joy and pain, you know our hearts and intentions. You know where we have missed the mark, chosen evil over good, and comfort over justice. You know where we have hurt others as well as ourselves. We confess our alienation and brokenness and ask that your forgiving love give us a new start. Show us where we have gone astray, and give us the courage and insight to begin again and again and again. In the name of the Healer Jesus. Amen.

Choosing Your Own Affirmation

"I invite you to contemplate the reality that forgiveness is a choice as well as a grace. Our intention to live by forgiveness liberates us to see the world with new eyes. We learn to let go of our imperfection as we commit ourselves to spiritual growth. Forgiveness frees us to become God's partners in transforming the world in new and amazing ways.

• "I forgive myself and claim God's love for me.

• "By God's forgiveness, I am freed from past pain and injustice.

• "I claim God's forgiveness of myself and others.

• "God is with me as I seek to forgive (a particular person).

Your Holy Imagination

"Do not attempt the following exercise if you are still deeply struggling with the impact of abuse, sexism, racism, and injustice; you may not have the interpersonal support to forgive in such situations. If you are struggling with issues of forgiveness without an adequate support community, take time today just to rest and relax in God's light and love. Forgiveness is a communal as well as a personal issue. Accordingly, it is important to have personal, spiritual, and professional companions with you on your pathway to forgiveness.

"In this healing exercise, take a moment to bathe yourself in God's care. With every breath, imagine divine energy entering your life and surrounding you with a protective shield. Whatever has happened in the past, know that in this moment you are now protected and surrounded by God's loving care.

"Take a moment to recall and feel your emotions about a personal slight. (It is often good to begin with something modest. If you want to tackle a more significant experience of pain or abuse, you may choose to do this exercise with an experienced spiritual friend.) Imagine the scene. What happened? What actions or words hurt you? How did you feel at the time? What are your feelings about the event today? How do you feel about the person who caused you this pain?

"Now, visualize Jesus as your companion in that situation. Experience his love and care for you. Tell Jesus about how you felt at the time and how you feel now. How does Jesus respond to you? What words does he say or what action does he take? Feel Jesus's nearness. Perhaps he hugs you or stands between you and the one who has hurt you.

"If possible, even as Jesus companions and protects you, sense Jesus's compassion for the one who has hurt you. Can you view that person as a beloved but misguided child of God? You may experience Jesus breaking the chain of pain and injustice so that both of you can experience new freedom. (If this part of the exercise is too painful, skip this section and simply focus on Jesus's comfort and care for you. That will be enough to support your healing process.

"Conclude this exercise with a sense of God's presence protecting and guiding you. Know that you are ultimately safe in God's care and that God is healing your life right now. Give thanks for God's loving presence now and in the future.

Living Adventurously

"In the spirit of the last exercise, your participation in this practice should arise from your sense of safety and growing forgiveness. If you find yourself feeling unsafe, emotionally fragile, or at risk, please seek spiritual and professional guidance that will enable you to experience the fullness of God's presence in your past or present painful memories and encounters.

"Now, if you feel that it is safe to do so, take a moment to consider persons from whom you feel estranged. Imagine their faces and the burdens they bear. If you are able to forgive them, perform a ritual to symbolize your new freedom. For example, you may draw the scene of the event, place a circle around it to represent God's light and love, and then carefully burn the picture or tear it up and flush it down the toilet as a symbol of letting go. You may also find it in yourself to pray for greater forgiveness and for the true well-being of one who has hurt you. If it is appropriate and you are at peace in your forgiveness, you may choose to communicate your forgiveness to the other in writing or speech, while at the same time letting go of your need to have any particular response on her or his part. Forgiveness is as much about your need to experience peace and reconciliation within yourself as it is about the other's acceptance of your forgiveness.

"Again, do not hurry or force your forgiveness processes. Honor where you are on your journey and have modest expectations of yourself. At all times, deal gently with yourself along your journey to wholeness and healing."