Forgiveness has the transformative potential to grow cherry trees from our scars

This mornings ‘cuppa’ was led by Elizabeth Stopford. She is a story-teller and filmaker who has a special interest in forgiveness as a way to resolve trauma. She began today by reading a short passage  from Toni Morrison’s  Beloved, a haunting lyrical response to the legacy of slavery.

Everybody knew what she was called, but nobody anywhere knew her name. Disremembered and unaccounted for, she cannot be lost because no one is looking for her, and even if they were, how can they call her if they don’t know her name? Although she has claim, she is not claimed. In the place where the long grass opens, the girl who waited to be loved and cry shame erupts into her separate parts, to make it easy for the chewing laughter to swallow her all away. It was not a story to pass on.They forgot her like a bad dream.

Elizabeth says: “Beloved is about the ways we can be haunted by what we “look away from”. There’s one  image in the book that has never left me. Sethe is a slave woman on the run.  A young girl describes her lying there before her, with a  “chokecherry tree” blossoming out of her  back. We come to understand that Sethe’s is a back riddled with wounds from being wipped, the seeping pussing scars of slavery. but that those same scars, through this lens, become roots for a tree.  New, hopeful life, blossoming out of scars. When  I first read this  20 years ago it ‘blew open my understanding of trauma and the transformative potential of forgiveness in my own life. It made me wonder whether our diverse but universal experiences of trauma, in themselves so isolating, have the potential to unite us, to transform us. New, hopeful life, blossoming out of scars. For me it is an image of forgiveness; of what might be possible if we together our scars to become our roots, with a spirit of forgiveness.   There is a spiritual quality to this image for me. It feels timely – akin to the resurrection”.

Elizabeth suggested: “Offering  this image up I  invite you to reflect on something that has scarred you, or your community, that has  become (or might become) the roots for new life.”

What cherry trees can you notice and nurture this week that have grown in the fertile soils of deep harm? We welcome you to reflect today and bring this beautiful imagery and sense of possibility into the week ahead.

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Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

With love, all of us at She Leads Change