This is a continuation of Sr. Pat Murray’s talk at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) last August.  Her fifth point is:  Engage in web-watching and web-weaving.

Sr. Pat referenced the Mennonite theologian and peace activist, John Paul Lederach, who used the term “moral imagination” to describe something “which calls people beyond what is immediately apparent and visible.”  Lederach said:   “web-approach enables the process of change in many difficult contexts.  The lines, connections and knots which we see in a web provide insight into a relationship centered approach.”  He goes on to say, she quotes:  “The art of web-weaving means that we should look at relationships through the lenses of social crossroads, connections and interdependence…we should notice turning points…turning points are moments of conversion that turn people in different directions.”

Recently on the news I think we witnessed just such a turning point.  It was the case of the police officer shooting an unarmed black man in his own apartment;  she mistakenly thinking she was in her own apartment and he was an intruder.  Whatever you think about the case itself, at her sentencing the brother of the man she shot and killed, asked the court at the end of his victim’s family statement if he could give the defendant a hug.  He asked twice before the judge agreed.

What we saw then was a long embrace of forgiveness right before our very eyes.  It was so moving and brought me to tears.  It reminded me of the shooting at the Amish school some years ago, and that community’s forgiveness of the man who shot ten of their girls.  How do people do that we might wonder?

Forgiveness is a powerful thing.  It connects us across race, religion, politics.  It enables the process of change in difficult situations to happen; we are not held hostage to hate or bitterness.  We are enveloped in healing.  Connections are made.  Somehow we are woven together.

As a woman of providence, I believe it is a gift from our Provident God.  A God who loves us and wants us to live in freedom and love and hope.  It makes the Lord’s prayer–forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us–more real than ever.  Perhaps we need many more moments of forgiveness in our world.

Barbara McMullen, CDP

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