I think that most of us posses some kind of self-awareness and can look back on our past and see a few things we did wrong. Most likely a few people we hurt along the way, too. And maybe, possibly, an area in our life where we aren’t quite living the way we should. There’s a lot of room for forgiveness in most people’s lives.
Which is why the title for this book is so perfect. Sweet Forgiveness. Forgiveness is sweet when it’s given. Ask any Catholic and they’ll tell you about the wonders of the Confessional. I dare say there isn’t much sweeter. And Hannah Farr, the main character in this novel seems to understand this when she asks, “What would it feel like to have a clear conscience, to feel whole and worthy and clean?”
I can’t help but read this book and see Catholicism all over it.
And I can’t help but wonder if Forgiveness Stones will make their way into big box stores everywhere.
Or maybe little velvet pouches will make a come back, and people will find the little pebbles from their own back yards. They’ll stuff them into the pouches and send them off into the mail, where the little pebbles might help to make someone feel whole again.
I’ll confess, I wasn’t keen on the idea at first. I thought – wait a minute! Forgiveness is something we just give! And if we’re seeking atonement for our actions, shouldn’t we just apologize? Is it absolutely necessary to receive a little pebble in the mail?
The short answer, of course, is no. No it isn’t absolutely necessary. But it completes the process, I think.
No, I know it completes the process.
Because each time I walk into that confessional, and rend my heart for the offenses that “have offended thee, My God,” I leave with something.
No, I’m not handed a little pebble.
I’m given something much greater in the form of a short prayer:
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I’m given absolution.
So even though I think Spielman’s first book outshines Sweet Forgiveness, her second. And though I’m not even sure I’ll find myself recommending it (see my full review). And I don’t even know if I can see myself handing out forgiveness stones. I can’t help but wonder if the Kingdom of Heaven hasn’t advanced just a little bit. And that maybe, just maybe, the next time I try to explain confession to my non-Catholic friends I can use the analogy of a pebble sent out and returned.
An outward sign, if you will.
And you, would you send out forgiveness stones? Would you at least return one sent to you?