By Rivka Perlman

November 5, 2023

Forgiveness Means Choosing Life

I want to forgive. 

Forgiveness is holding many things at once and containing them with conviction and compassion. I hold these things in a warm, smooth bowl and I carry them lightly yet close to my belly. Each one has its voice and I listen now as they sing a cradlesong of freedom.

Pain is the first voice I hear calling from my bowl. I acknowledge its presence and catch that sound and feel its weight. I feel the power of that pain and realize that if my experience had been any less brutal the learning would have been that much less. I honor the pain as the essential cleansing fire it is; an initiation to new doors of wisdom. The pain is my teacher; and I, a willing student.  

Perspective is the next voice. In its notes I hear tales. They come to life and let me see. Where once I saw only one story I now see many.  I concede to those stories and listen with an open heart.  They speak of humanity and struggle. They speak of greatness and yearning. And they let me know that each story has so much more choice than I ever acknowledged.  There are endless ways to perceive what I once thought of as simple. Every perspective has its truth; it all fits in the bowl.

My bowl is singing a soft song of grace, when suddenly a new sound calls out. Like a hummingbird flitting around me or a fairy that’s perched on my shoulder, it twitters and chirps, it teases me. Its tender leaves are young and it’s barely begun to grow roots. This sound is hope. 

Hope has sprung up from the green of forgiveness. It grows in forgiveness because forgiveness opens doors to life.

Out of nowhere comes music that compels me to dance. A dance that I didn’t know was possible.  My load is lighter, my breath is deeper. The music of hope is strong and clear. It’s rhythmic and flowing and old and new. Hope’s melody is of this moment and the astonishing things I can create from here. 

As I dance with forgiveness my arms are full. There is no room for anything else. I can’t carry two bowls at once. I thought I could but now I know better. I know now that the bowl of forgiveness is huge. And to hold it I must let go of everything else. My arms circle it like a great big mixing bowl. It reminds me of my challah bowl. I pray as I make challah and I pray now.

 I bow my head in the scent of forgiveness and I ask; let me hold on to this scent. Let me not only smell it, but dig my hands into to it. Knead it, pound it into my being. Let hope and forgiveness get under my nails and onto my counters. Let it leave glorious messes of life around me and cling to my essence. Let it follow me home and bless my family. 

I’m kneading forgiveness now. I’m creating something new, something nourishing. Something I want to be, something I want to give; something that would be impossible without the accompanying pain.  And so I bless it. 

I bless the pain and the One who gave it. I bless the thorny tentacles that led me here. I bless the Oneness and the knowing that in someone else’s bowl perhaps I am the one causing the pain. I bless that person and pray we find our way.  

And as I’m doing all this blessing and kneading and forgiving the work is still not over. There is a space that calls for more. There are still places that forgiveness hasn’t dared touch. Places I’ve layered with blankets of stone. I need to surrender my protections and let the tears flow. I need to risk it all and not hold back. I need to forgive myself. 

For a moment the bowl becomes heavy as I wonder if I can really do it. My self-judgment is my last grip on the past. Do I have what it takes to live in the now? Can I really let go? 

 And like a fountain burbling up, my soul’s voice rumbles up from within me. My heartbeat thumps with a message of truth.  I hear “You can live alive or die a slow death.” I can forgive myself and create my future or I can hold back and die forever in the past.

 I choose life.

I choose because I want life. I chose forgiveness because without it I am dead. I choose life because life is delicious. I’m done with standing in the corner watching others eat while I’m on a hunger strike with no cause.

 I let go and like a newborn that cries as it emerges, I cry too. I am born into this moment and freed from the past. Joy is here. It bubbles within me lends me new eyes. 

The past makes me laugh and the future is wide open. Joy and forgiveness mingle with hope. They soothe the pain and remove regret. I am cleansed. I am happy I am here. I chose LIFE.

Do you want to go on a journey of Forgiveness? It’s some of the greatest work you’ll ever do. You can download a free Forgiveness worksheet here and it will help you to get started. If you need more support, don’t hesitate to set up a call at

Download the Forgiveness Worksheet and work through your story.

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