Blankets of Forgiveness
A snippet of a sermon story is told by Scott McClanahan in the book Crapalachia. In this story a man argued harshly with his parents, left for many years without saying goodbye, and spent some time in jail. Years later he wondered if his parents were still alive and how they might feel about him. He wrote saying he would be coming home. If they wanted to see him, if they were not ashamed, if they were not enraged they should put a blanket on the clothesline. When he arrived he saw a blanket in a tree, then another, the house and yard were covered with blankets, and the clothesline was covered in blankets. The path to the door was covered with blankets and his parents stood welcoming him. (McClanahan, 2013, p.106-107)
I’ve pondered this story as it seems I have much to forgive lately: myself, a previous co-worker for whom I felt hurt and betrayed, a person who unintentionally creates environments of tension and anxiety, a person who caused intentional physical harm to many, and persons I don’t know who just cut me off in traffic. I wondered what if I could lay out a blanket for myself? What would life be like to have such a blanket of forgiveness and acceptance? What if I had a blanket for others that I could wrap around them? What kind of person might I be? Become? What perspectives of life might I see differently if I had blankets for the persons I needed to forgive? For others? What if we had blankets for our neighbors that hung over our fences and through neighborhoods, our cities, our countries, across borders, boundaries and oceans? What if we could cover the world in blankets of forgiveness, grace, acceptance, welcome and generosity?
This symbol of the blanket rolled around in my head as I continued to ponder. So, I went searching for a symbolic blanket. I had images of it draping around my feet for warmth, lying peacefully on top of it, resting gently under it, placing my head upon it at night. This blanket could not be new, crisp and clean. I imagined this blanket to be old, worn, stained, and perhaps even torn. Forgiveness does not come crisp, clean, easy and neat. It takes a cracking of an intention, an unfolding of openness, and softening in vulnerability to be the giver of forgiveness and to accept the loving grace. As I pondered some more we need lots of blankets not just for ourselves and those we love and know but for our world.
At the bottom of my bed there is now a small handmade quilted blanket, old, worn, and torn at the edges. It is missing a few stitches. It just so happens the quilt has some hearts on it. It is a reminder to forgive and accept myself and others again and again and again in loving kindness. A reminder that we are forgiven. It is a reminder that our world needs blankets of forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and love. Perhaps…, just perhaps, we each have a blanket we might, with open intention, pull out and unfold to be seen on our clothesline.
McClanahan, S. (2013). Crapalachia: a biography of place. Columbus, Ohio: Two Dollar Radio.
Divine Creator, may our clotheslines and walkways be covered with blankets. May our hearts and actions be instruments of your peace. Amen