When I went to the door, at the whisper of knocking,
I saw Simeon Gantner’s daughter, Kathleen, standing
There, in her shawl and her shame, sent to ask
“Forgiveness Flour” for her bread. “Forgiveness Flour,”
We call it in our corner. If one has erred, one
Is sent to ask for flour of his neighbors. If they loan it
To him, that means he can stay, but if they refuse, he had
Best take himself off. I looked at Kathleen . . .
What a jewel of a daughter, though not much like her
Father, more’s the pity. “I’ll give you flour,” I
Said, and went to measure it. Measuring was the rub.
If I gave too much, neighbors would think I made sin
Easy, but if I gave too little, they would label me
“Close.” While I stood measuring, Joel, my husband
Came in from the mill, a great bag of flour on his
Shoulder, and seeing her there, shrinking in the
Doorway, he tossed the bag at her feet. “Here, take
All of it.” And so she had flour for many loaves,
While I stood measuring.
I love this poem. I read it the other day, and it touched my heart. I can't help thinking how much like this woman I can be. Worried about what others will think if I am too easy, or two hard on someone else. Worried about the perceptions that surround me in my day to day life. Worried, way too often, about what others will say if I don't do it "exactly" right. I can so see myself, like this woman, reviewing, remembering, withholding, measuring.
Yet, the more I read this, the more I feel so in awe of anyone, like this man, who can see the need and not hold back the flour. But pour it out in abundance at the feet of the one who needs it. I love the idea of forgiveness flour. Something that is tangible and visible. Something that lets you know that you really have been forgiven. Something that lets you put the past behind you and move on.
I made the mistake of watching a show yesterday that involved a family who had been wronged, and the people who were guilty of the crime. There was no forgiveness. There were however, so many hurting people, on either side. So many who desperately needed and wanted forgiveness, yet these people did not find it. It reminds me that it is not found in the words and programs of the world. It must be found in our hearts. It is a gift that we give not only to one another, but also to ourselves.
I have learned that forgiveness is a blessing. Not just to those seeking it, but to all of us who need to give. Finding forgiveness in my heart, in spite of the hurt and the pain and the regret, allows me to heal. It allows me to give the judgements back to God. It allows me to turn the agony over to Him. It allows me to trust that He knows the person's heart and intents, as I can never know or understand those things. It allows me peace in the journey.
I know that forgiveness is hard. It is easy to measure out the flour and withhold what is needed. Somehow, the thing we miss is that forgiveness is not only for the person who is asking. Forgiveness is also for me and for you. It is for each of us who come to the door, knocking with cups outstretched. It is for those of us who stand measuring, afraid to give what is asked. There is not one of us who has not needed the abundance of flour to make our own bread. There is not one of us who has not needed to stand with heads down and cup outstretched.
Trusting Him, is about turning our lives over to our Heavenly Father and realizing that He makes all the difference.