Posted on

What does forgiveness look like?

Tonight marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days. Much of the emphasis of the next ten days is on forgiveness. We ask forgiveness from those we have hurt. We ask forgiveness for ourselves for being less than we know we can be. We ask forgiveness of God for our failure to lead good and righteous lives.

I was asked to create a piece of art that illustrated what forgiveness might look like. This is what I came up with.


What does forgiveness look like?

A broken vase, a treasured gift
from a father who is gone.

My grandfather’s Havdala spice jar,
dropped by a five year old’s inattentive grasp.

The Kiddush cup we got when our first son was born,
mangled in the garbage disposal
as I hurriedly tried to rush through kitchen clean-up.

Broken bits of life that used to shatter my heart.
I chastised myself for their loss.

At first I didn’t know why I saved them in that crate in the garage.
They were painful reminders of moments gone wrong and the
things and people I could never replace.

And then one day I found them and realized
that although they were not whole, as they had once been,
they could live anew, as they now were,
precious pieces of a creative expression.

Entangled within cabinets, picture frames, shelves,
these beloved mementos remind me to forgive, to let go,
to welcome the changes that come sometimes with
carelessness, hurry, and the natural course of our existence.

Forgiveness allows what is broken to become whole.
Art is the process by which those shattered shards come together
to express the imperfect beauty of life.

L’Shana Tova to all.

About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Oklahoma City with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

5 responses to “What does forgiveness look like?

  1. Mack Burly ⋅

    Wow! What kind of person saves broken things like that to turn them into a lovely work of art symbolizing a human quality we should all be evolved enough to possess? I guess that you would be that kind of person. Congratulations on evolving to a beautifully elevated state of humanity. Just think what the world might be like if we could extend that quality of forgiveness beyond our immediate families. If we could extend it to those we find harder to forgive. Is there a limit to our capacity for forgiveness? How do we get everyone on board with attempting to increase that capacity? How much better would the world be if we succeeded? Thank you, Debra, for getting me to think about that.


  2. Jeff Nowak ⋅

    Very nice 🙏


  3. Liz Bell-Zinn ⋅

    Beautiful!!!! L’Shana Tova to you and your lovely family!! Liz


  4. Thanks for the reminder not to give up on myself or others. As a recovering perfectionist, this is sometimes difficult to do.

    Your poem makes me think of a wall plaque I saw: It is what it is, but it will be what you make of it. Thanks for reminding me that what is broken can be made beautiful.

    Blessings on your Holy Days!


  5. Carolyn Folks ⋅

    So lovely, Debra. L’Shana Tova.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s