21 Days of Forgiveness

Call for Submissions

Name (or leave blank to stay anonymous)
Name (or leave blank to stay anonymous)
Your story about forgiveness. Please keep to around 250 words.

In 2014, when we first produced The Amish Project, we asked people to send us submissions of their personal stories about Forgiveness.

This season, in honour of the show's return, we are pleased to bring back 21 Days of Forgiveness as part of FUEL starting April 10th and continuing throughout the remount of The Amish Project.

In 250 words, please tell us about your experience(s) of Forgiveness; forgiving someone else, denying forgiveness, being forgiven, not being forgiven– we look forward to hearing from the online community!

Poetry, paintings and photographs are also welcome. Just email us a JPEG.

You can remain anonymous or include your name. You can post your story in the form provided or email your story to info@greenlight-arts.com.

Each story will be posted to this page and shared on social media. Each person who submits their story will receive a complimentary ticket to see The Amish Project running in 3 different cities (Kitchener, Hamilton, St. Jacobs) from April 13-30, 2016.


Day 1: April 10, 2017

I am genderqueer. My pronouns are they and them. For those who know, it's a struggle to remember. For me, it's a struggle to remember who I am. When I'm misgendered and people say sorry, I struggle with how to forgive. A simple sorry and correction helps me feel like it is important to them and that we can move on to enjoy ourselves. I can always forgive that. For those who talk extensively, needing to elaborate on the reasons it occurs and how bad they feel...I struggle to forgive.

For many reasons, it undermines my knowledge on the heteronormative ideology we enact in our society. I know it. I'm living in it as are you. The second part is making it about them. I've shared something personal that I'm gradually bringing it out in public and it hurts that it feels like a burden. I'm trying to fully grasp intentions in each situation but it all come back to feeling like I'm weighting hard upon people. But, I want to be me. To be called what I want to be called. To feel how I ought to feel. I think that's why it's easier for me to forgive a quick correction. It's a simple fix and not much of a weight on me or my friends. I will struggle with forgiveness until I know if and how I can forgive.

I know I'll never forgive anyone who denies my identity. There is no need to deny anyone's existence.

-- Zac G.


Day 2: April 11, 2017

Just Say You're Sorry.

Every time I'm around you, I have to put a mask on and it's suffocating. I would forgive you if you would just say you were sorry, but you won't. 

Just. Say. You're Sorry.

-- Anonymous


Day 3: April 12, 2017

The following are taken from conversations I've had, real apologies that fell from my lips, in an attempt to survive a dying relationship.

I’m sorry I had to run out so fast
I’m sorry I was drunk last night
I’m sorry for burning dinner
I’m sorry for letting my emotions get the best of me
I’m sorry I made us late
I’m sorry if I sounded like I was upset
I’m sorry for not checking my voicemail
I’m sorry I forgot about our plans
I’m sorry for being an asshole when I’m hungry
I’m sorry for being an asshole in general
I’m sorry my phone died
I’m sorry for bothering you
I’m sorry I lost the directions
I’m sorry I lost track of time
I’m sorry I fell asleep
I’m sorry I got mad about keeping the house clean
I’m sorry I brought up a sensitive topic
I’m sorry I made such a big deal of today
I’m sorry for not understanding sooner
I’m sorry for coming home late
I’m sorry for all the little things that keep adding up
I’m sorry for letting fear get in our way
I’m sorry for letting others decide my worth
I’m sorry I made things worse
I’m sorry I couldn’t stay up later
I’m sorry I wasn’t ready to live with you
I’m sorry I made you travel to see me
I’m sorry I wasn’t what you wanted
I’m sorry for my part in everything
I’m sorry for not putting myself first. Ever.

-- Alexandra Porter (text abbreviated)


Day 4: April 13, 2017

A Teenaged "Mistake"

My ex and I had our son when we were 18 years old. Needless to say, the pregnancy was unplanned. 

Teenaged parenthood comes with a lot of stigma. The immaturity and irresponsibility of becoming pregnant or impregnating someone before a socially appropriate age is something people judge. 

During my ex's pregnancy and the first few years of my son's life, people would often refer to my child as a "mistake," or an "oops." 

"Oh, Caleb and his girlfriend made an oops." 

"How's your little mistake doing?"

Beyond the fact that that is wildly patronizing, this type of language is dehumanizing to our child. My son is not a mistake. He is a gift, a blessing, a human being who should never be defined by the circumstances that led to his existence. 

Now six years old, my son asks a lot of questions about why he lives in two houses, how his mom and I had him if we were never married, and even why his friends' parents are so much older than his own. And I am sure one day my son will ask the question I dread the most: 

"Dad, did you and mommy want me?"

Yes. The answer is yes. But unfortunately, the wrinkle lies in the intention of the act. It is true that my son's existence was unplanned. But we chose to keep him. We chose to love and support and raise him. And as much as I know that he is a blessing, a gift, and my little human being, I can't help but think that he will draw the conclusion that he was a "mistake," an "oops," an inconvenience.

And no matter how much I try and convince him that I have always wanted him, I worry he'll never forgive me for making that teenaged mistake.

-- Caleb Davis


Day 5: April 14, 2017

Every time I take a step forward,
She pulls me two steps back.
My one bright and loving eyes,
Are dimming to a broken black.
I don't know if my heard can handle more pain,
because my heart's too much a mess.
It's getting much too hard to clean,
I'm overwhelmed by all this stress.
What happened to "friends forever"
or "I'll be here until you die"?
Because I'm either dying,
or the whole thing was a lie.

-- Abbi Longmire


Day 6: April 15, 2017

"Wilma and Cliff Derksen never met the man who they believe killed their daughter, the man they vowed to try to love, though they have sat through both his criminal trials."

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LIPNOWSKI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

"Cliff and Wilma Derksen were standing side by side, together, just as they were on that cold winter night so long ago. They have spent 32 years fighting to keep the darkness away. It is not easy or perfect, but every day they keep trying." [Source: JANA G. PRUDENGlobe and Mail]

Green Light Arts hosted Wilma Derksen in 2014 when we first produced The Amish Project. We were honoured to have her as a guest speaker following one performance and as a guest panellist alongside other guests from Conrad Grebel Peace & Conflict Studies and Community Justice Initiatives following another performance. These incredible people and organizations work so hard to build a better world for all of us, every day.

On this 6th day of #21DaysofForgiveness, we would like to share an article from The Globe and Mail published yesterday on Friday, April 14, 2017.


Day 7: April 16, 2017

[This one is a throw-back from 2014]

As an ESL kid, ethnic minority in an extremely white-centric Catholic school growing up, I was bullied a lot, and often made an outcast. I was extremely afraid of losing friends, and therefore easily forgave anyone for anything. Without trying to say I was blameless, I do believe a lot of people I forgave were mostly for things done to me, rather than mutual fighting.

I decided to change this completely in later years. I still tried to fight to maintain relationships, but started setting "deal breaker" points. Those who pass, I will never forgive. One specific case was a former friend, who decided to tell me I should have died based on a suicide attempt. This was nearly 10 years ago. I still haven't forgiven her. People kept telling me that forgiveness means letting go. I saw it as letting someone get away with something.

What has disappeared is the rage. In recent years, I've realized that raging at others means continuing to wallow in pain myself. I was hindering myself from moving on. I also felt that clinging onto the grudge was almost like I was feeding immaturity in some sense. Someone asked me years after the incident what would I do if I saw her again, and joked about how terrified she should be. I answered that I would speak to them professionally. For me, I'm not sure if I would call it forgiveness. But I will call it maturity, and understanding that there is a bigger picture.

-- Anonymous 


Day 8: April 17, 2017

[This one is a throw-back from 2014]

Forgiveness: its power to heal

When I was 5, my dad, driving home one day, inadvertently and most regrettably, struck and killed another 5-year-old girl from our rural community. As a thick blanket of despair descended on our home, I came to believe that I was the one who should have died, since it was my dad whose actions, while unintentional, had ended this life. A sense of being unworthy to live hung, dark and muttering, in my psyche well into adulthood. I was somehow guilty of the removal of joy from the lives of many who had loved the dead girl. Understandably, there was no apparent forgiveness emanating from her family. My dad, with whom I was very close, died at a relatively young age, his life shortened by this grief.

As I approached mid-life, I generated the courage to lift this ancient burden to the light. As if guided by unseen hands, an unrelated event brought me into the presence of the dead girl's mother, whom I had never before seen. As soon as I realized who she was, I knew I needed to speak with her.

Before I spoke, she had guessed my topic. I reflected that our families had a history together, that I was deeply sorry for the pain that had come to her family, and that my dad had struggled with this for the rest of his life. Her words, “Oh, that was forgiven long ago,” were what, all those years, I had needed to hear.

-- Submitted by M H


Day 9: April 18, 2017

I have forgiven her for leaving me. I will never forgive mental illness for taking her.

-- Anonymous


Day 10: April 19, 2017

Credit: Rudy Francisco, renowned spoken word poet

Credit: Rudy Francisco, renowned spoken word poet


Day 11: April 20, 2017

Lies. Festering. 
Crawling out of people's mouths. 
Meant to hurt and ruin. 
Trusting dishonest people. 
Overruling the innocents. 
Crushing and I fall. 
I'm crumbled and broken,
Over something I haven't done.

-- Anonymous


Day 12: April 21, 2017

[This is a throwback from 2014]

Her.

She was abusive and crazy, my biological mother.
Every physical or psychological terror she inflicted, she did so without hesitation or remorse. She was/is mentally ill.
She always professed to love me. That of me and my two other siblings, I was the “good” one. She also told me she should have flushed me down the toilet. 
I left home when I was 17 and had been estranged from her for 15 years when I heard last Christmas she had a brain tumor. 
I knew I’d have to decide whether that warranted me re-opening that door. 
I didn't want to. 
My step-mother urged me to meet with her – in case she died, so I wouldn't regret it. 
We met for lunch, chaperoned by my cousin and my older sister. 
It was numbing and I wanted a shower afterwards. The tumor was apparently pressing on her brain, making her spacey and tangential. She was straining to curb her vitriol, punctuated with nervous, manic laughter. She was trying to act loving and like no time had passed. I recall her smiling at me through now cataract-glazed eyes, in no way in touch with reality. I looked at my hands for the most part while my sister did the talking. 
She survived her brain tumor. But I won’t see her again before she dies. 
Sure I forgive her. The thought of her makes me sick, but I forgive her. She’s mentally unstable. She could have been no other way. What remains more important is that I forgive myself for how I survived the trauma of my childhood.

-- Anonymous


Day 13: April 22, 2017

Ties.

A love story isn't something that comes by all the time.
Everyone so often it comes knocking at your door,
With a world full of firsts.
First glances, first laughs, first kisses, first cries.
All of these firsts are tied to this person.
And with them you want to tie yourself,
Your life,
To this person.
You plan, without even realizing.
You dream.
You don't notice any wrong doings.
Or, you do,
But you set them aside.
"They aren't a big deal."
After years of this routine,
The ties finally snap.
Or maybe, you tied yours with double knots,
Whereas they just fastened theirs with a loose twist that was always doing to unravel with time.
So then you must cut your own knots,
The ones you took such care and time to tie.
Your eyes open to a world of realization and possibilities.
But now you have all of these lose strings hanging off of you,
Getting in your way.

-- Abbi Longmire


Day 14: April 23, 2017

You are a misogynistic jerk.

I did not want to forgive you. 
Because then I forgive myself.
That would mean I would have to admit what a fool I was.
You made up stuff, like where you were born.
You always made me feel like shit for asking for time with a friend
You always never did what you said you would do.
You never were where you said you were to be.
You never told the truth at work.
You used deflection on to me to take any responsibility. 
You made crazy stuff up like I used an app to send texts to you at a certain time to cover up your lack of decency to show up and own it.

I forgive myself. 
I was a fool to fall for your bullshit.
I was a fool to let you in.
I was miserable every day with you.
But, I forgive myself for thinking this was ok to be treat me like this.

I forgive myself
I like these words

I forgive myself
Now we move on

-- Anonymous


Day 15: April 24, 2017

[A local composer named Carol Ann Weaver contacted us by phone expressing interest in seeing The Amish Project and sharing that she had written a piece of music in 2007 inspired by hearing about the Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse shooting. She said it was called "Lobsang"...]

"Lobsang" - words and music by Carol Ann Weaver
performed by Rebecca Campbell, vocals, CAWeaver piano, Ben Bolt-Martin, cello, Grebel Chapel Choir (Leonard Enns, conductor), on Carol Ann Weaver's Every 3 Children CD, 2007.


Lobsang
(for the Amish girls)
by Carol Ann Weaver
October 2, 2006

At dawn three Amish girls woke
and gathered the eggs that lay in the family barn
and sat while their mother braided their hair
never knowing [it was] for the last time.

And then they walked to school,
a one-roomed wooden building,
and started their lessons that day.

But an intruder entered the building,
boarded up the doors,
and boarded up their lives.

Given only minutes to live
they prayed their final prayer
but they didn't have words to speak
so they sang their final prayer.

(chorus)
Weep oh sisters
Weep oh brothers
Weep oh fathers
Weep oh mothers
Oh weep for the children
Who have gone before us
Lobsang is a difficult song
When our children are taken away.

-- Carol Ann Weaver

email:  caweaver@uwaterloo.ca
website:  http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~caweaver/


Day 16: April 25, 2017

Treat yourself with love.

I am very sad for those who cannot forgive themselves. The blackness of that grief shadows life, feeds addiction, hurts them and everyone around them. Sad for adults who don't forgive their child selves. Sad for those loved and so forgiven, but cannot forgive themselves. Tendrils of guilt wrapping them, imprisoning them, they cannot seem to cut, or are so used to, cannot imagine life without the shadow.

-- Anonymous


Day 17: April 26, 2017

Day 18: April 27, 2017

Day 19: April 28, 2017

Day 20: April 29, 2017

Day 21: April 30, 2017