Have faith: Forgiveness

Learning to see the other side and moving on with your life.

Susan Waldrop. Photo courtesy of Susan Waldrop

Every other week, Connie Berry reports on the news, events, and people at Martha’s Vineyard’s various places of worship.

I watched the 1970 movie “Love Story” a few weeks ago, waiting for that famous line: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” And then I thought, Boy, am I in trouble. I can think of at least a dozen instances this week when “I’m sorry” was necessary. Forgiveness — both giving and receiving it — can be a harrowing prospect.

Interfaith minister and spiritual counselor Susan Waldrop is leading a workshop on forgiveness this weekend, Saturday, March 19, from 9 am to 3 pm at the Federated Church parish hall in Edgartown, where she serves as a deacon.

Forgiveness, Ms. Waldrop admits, can be complicated.

“Forgiveness is a spiritual path, and common among all religions,” Ms. Waldrop explained. “Forgiveness recognizes our shared humanity, and my humanity means that I could have done the same thing to someone else. Forgiveness is a process, not something that happens in an instant.”

She hopes that her workshop will provide the participants tools to use in the process of forgiveness, which she said doesn’t necessarily mean it’s determined that one person is right and the other is wrong.

“You need to look with loving acceptance at where you’re at in the process of forgiveness, feel your feelings, don’t shove them away or bury them,” she recommended. “Sometimes half the battle is just being listened to, and accepting yourself so that you can release the hurt.”

Her goal is to meet people wherever they may be along their own route to forgiveness. The workshop will include time for sharing, a PowerPoint presentation, prayers for healing in the afternoon, and time to break for a bag lunch, which is a bring-your-own affair. There’s no cost for the workshop, but donations will be accepted. For more information, call Ms. Waldrop at 973-879-9813.

Seeing homelessness up close

A large contingent from the Island traveled to Boston last weekend to take part in the CityReach program. The group was made up of several students and their chaperones, totaling 23 in all. The young people are affiliated with the Island-wide Net ecumenical youth group, and they went to Boston to experience an urban homeless ministry firsthand.

Owen Favreau, an eighth grader at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, said the experience made him realize being homeless can happen to anyone.

“I realized that homelessness can happen to anyone, no matter how rich, poor, dark-skinned, light-skinned, nice, or mean you are,” Owen wrote in an email.

Owen moved to the Vineyard from Manhattan, so he explained that he was familiar with homelessness, but had never experienced it up-close.

“I feel like I brought back feelings of compassion toward people that we may not think about as much as we should, especially when they’re among us,” he continued.

While in Boston, the young people went on a guided walk in the city on Friday evening. That night they slept on the floor of a church, then woke up Saturday and spent the day organizing clothing and making sandwiches. They served food and drink to the homeless and chatted with them as they helped them find what they needed. When it was all over, they gathered to process what they’d experienced.

Father Chip Seadale from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church said the experience is “pretty powerful.” The young people are encouraged to talk about their Boston weekend when they return home to their religious communities on the Vineyard.

The Island’s homeless ministry, Hospitality Homes, continues through the end of March. If you need transportation to one of the locations, call 508-560-2473.

Holy Week

Island churches are gearing up for Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday on March 20. This week, though, an Irish blessing is in order:

May your troubles be less

And your blessings be more.

And nothing but happiness

Come through your door.

If you have news for Have Faith, email it to connie.berry12@gmail.com.