A beautiful legend tells of an African tribe that ritualized forgiveness. When a tribe member acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he/she is taken to the center of the village. All work ceases and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused.
Then the tribe bombards the rejected person with affirmations! One at a time, friends and family enumerate all the good the individual has done. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with some detail and accuracy is recounted. All their positive attributes, strengths and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. Finally, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the outcast is welcomed back into the tribe.
What a beautiful ritual of restoration! They replace hurt with happiness; pain with peace. Once again they are family. The rejected one is restored and the village is made whole. Paul Boese has said, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” As brothers and sisters in our global village, is letting go of those resentments really an option?