“Forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” [Luke 23:34]
Both asking for forgiveness and offering it can be one of most difficult and humbling experiences. When asking it’s an admission that you were wrong. When offering forgiveness it’s an extension of grace (and sometimes animosity feels so good).
Atheism For Lent has not implicitly been about forgiveness, but as we reach into the depths of our soul, our tradition, and our upbringing we no doubt reveal some wounds that had not had time to heal. As we pull away the bandaid of religion we reveal the hurt we have received and experienced. And we likely point a finger at whoever is responsible for the scar we’ve discovered.
Forgiveness is not implicitly religious; it is implicitly human. It is to “give the before.” It’s not always easy, in fact it rarely is, but it reminds us of our common humanity, our sadly natural ability to bring someone with us when we’re falling, hoping they will catch our fall but knowing that they will likely fall with us. And when we fall (or are pushed and pulled down), we have the opportunity, obligation even, to request and extend forgiveness.
Atheism For Lent may have been space to finally stand up, to realize how much and how far religion or religious communities have pulled you down. But Atheism For Lent is also space to offer forgiveness, not out of some religious duty but because of our shared humanity.
Or Atheism For Lent may have revealed the way in which you use religion or secularism, faith or reason to pull and push others. If so, it is also an invitation to ask for forgiveness for those you have have hurt along the way.
Wherever you are, standing or falling, the invitation is the same: one person forgiving another.