Beyond Forgiveness: Reflections on Atonement

Beyond Forgiveness: Reflections on Atonement

Beyond Forgiveness: Reflections on Atonement

Beyond Forgiveness: Reflections on Atonement

Excerpt

When I first encountered the famous speech by Chief Keokuk (Kiyo’kaga), I felt many deep and conflicting emotions, including shock, inspiration, awe, and confusion. I asked, and I continue to ask, how this tribal Sauk chief could say these words while he and his nation were being sentenced to the Trail of Tears. His words brought tears to my eyes:

The many moons and sunny days we have lived here will long
be remembered by us. The Great Spirit has smiled upon us and
made us glad. But we have agreed to go. We go to a country we
know little of. Our home will be beyond a great river on the way
to the setting sun. We will build our wigwams there in another
land…. In peace we bid you good-bye…. If you come to see
us, we will gladly welcome you.

How could he even think of a future where “we will gladly welcome you”? What spiritual source had this leader tapped?

Over the years, I have admired many individuals who have dealt with “unforgivable” tragedies and dire circumstances. How did they perform the seemingly impossible act of forgiveness? How did the Kennedy family forgive the assassins of Jack and Bobby? How could Jacqueline write a letter to Lee Harvey . . .

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