“Forgiveness Flour” by Marguerite Stewart

Forgiveness mustn’t be a stingy business, though it’s usually painful to offer. It happens at our very core or it doesn’t happen at all. But it takes time, and we are often willing before we are able.

Today I heard for the first time Marguerite Stewart’s poem, “Forgiveness Flour,” over the stake conference pulpit.

When I went to the door, at the whisper of knocking,
I saw Simeon Gantner’s daughter, Kathleen, standing
There, in her shawl and her shame, sent to ask
“Forgiveness Flour” for her bread. “Forgiveness Flour,”
We call it in our corner. If one has erred, one
Is sent to ask for flour of his neighbors. If they loan it
To him, that means he can stay, but if they refuse, he had
Best take himself off. I looked at Kathleen . . .
What a jewel of a daughter, though not much like her
Father, more’s the pity. “I’ll give you flour,” I
Said, and went to measure it. Measuring was the rub.
If I gave too much, neighbors would think I made sin
Easy, but if I gave too little, they would label me
“Close.” While I stood measuring, Joel, my husband
Came in from the mill, a great bag of flour on his
Shoulder, and seeing her there, shrinking in the
Doorway, he tossed the bag at her feet. “Here, take
All of it.” And so she had flour for many loaves,
While I stood measuring.

Forgiveness mustn’t be a stingy business, though it’s usually painful to offer. It happens at our very core or it doesn’t happen at all. But it takes time, and we are often willing before we are able.

It’s self-liberating because, once you forgive, you can think clearly about something else. The more freely we give and forgive, the freer we become.

I am indebted to Madison U. Sowell who helped my find this poem as he cited it in his BYU Devotional, “On Measuring Flour and Forgiveness.” “Forgiveness Flour” by Marguerite Stewart was published in the Religious Studies Center Newsletter 7, no. 3 (May 1993).

2 thoughts on ““Forgiveness Flour” by Marguerite Stewart

  1. I just finished reading “Amish Grace” by Donald Craybill, et.al. It is an absolutely wonderful book about forgiveness arising from the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting in the fall of 2006. Pres. Faust referred to that incident in his general conference talk in April 2007. What struck me the most was the authors explanation of the difference between forgiveness and pardon. I kept thinking of D&C 64 where we are told that we must forgive all, but the Lord will forgive whom he will. The Amish believe so strongly in the idea that we must forgive to be forgiven by God that it permeates everything in their life.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely poem. I’m working on cultivating a forgiving attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

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