“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).

Unlike the Rest

Courtesy Ryan McFarland (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haliaeetus_leucocephalus_-Alaska,_USA_-flying-8.jpg

A day unlike the rest,
unpummeled by fists of
reason, shade from
the bleaching rays of
doubt, release from the
common miscalculations,
or the terror of regret.

A day to find peace in an
empty pocket, to stand
facing the sun from an
astronomical shore,
to drink of fathomless hope,
to ride unfailing wings,
a bright, blinding day of
upturned possibility.

—Michael James Fitzgerald

Dedicated to #HisDay. See Isaiah 40:31.

This Winter

I know winter will be blue. It’s how
the ashes of summer color the cold, and
the stubborn grass leans on my regret,

and how timid, ripe clouds—
silent angels—storm my fitful hopes
and wounded resolve.

I wait at the season’s verge
with skyward eyes, not daring
to look down,

and trust the Timekeeper of heaven
who promised, long ago, to weep
with me through the night.

Michael James Fitzgerald

Save

Easter 1986

Courtesy LDS Media LibrarySmoke rose impatiently
through pearly blossoms,
like the prayers of the saints,

and the tonic of flowers
begged him to overthrow
darker persuasions.

From a faded tulip chair, he
looked up at me and said,
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

He inhaled the light and fragrant day, and, sitting back, rested mute bones against impossibility.

Michael James Fitzgerald