When I reference putting our rocks down in this sermon, I’m referencing the children’s time we’ve just done in which we contemplated Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers, and our own work of forgiveness. We said that forgiveness is as much or more about us as it is about the people we’re forgiving, and to demonstrate this I worked with one of our awesome children, Hayley. Hayley and I each held a bucket representing our lives, and we pretended I had done something mean to Hayley. To represent the mean thing, I put a whole bag of rocks in her bucket, which then became heavy. Then, we said, Hayley retaliated and did something mean to me to get back at me. She put a big bag of rocks in my bucket. In return, I put a big bag, and then many big stones, in her bucket, which became so heavy she could barely hold it. And then we said: when this happens, we have a choice. We can keep carrying these buckets, letting them weigh down our arms and our hearts. Or, we can choose to put them down. Putting them down is forgiveness.
Hayley chose to put hers down, with a big thud and sigh of relief. I held mine for awhile, because that’s how forgiveness often works – we forgive at different speeds. My arm started to shake and my heart got weary, so I put mine down, too.
We talked about how the rocks are still there – they didn’t go away, it’s not as if nothing happened. But forgiveness is a way of saying, “what you did to me is too heavy for me to keep carrying around. My arms and my heart are tired. I’m going to put it down now.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, “Listening to Your Life,” Gospel Medicine (Plymouth, UK: Cowley Publications, 1995), pp. 125-130.
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 34.
The Daily Examen is a spiritual practice from St. Ignatius. You can read about the five steps here.
Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.” Full text can be read on the Poetry Foundation website.