Forgiveness Flour

So I am a sucker for poetry and I know you are thinking, "oh dear not one of those people." Stay with me here!

I love this story poem sent to me composed by Marguerite Stewart. It is entitled "Forgiveness Flour." The poem, written in the first person, features an unnamed wife who answers her door to find a young woman in shame and seeking flour, which symbolizes forgiveness. The poem reads:

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.

[Marguerite Stewart, "Forgiveness Flour," Religious Studies Center Newsletter 7, no. 3 (May 1993): 1]

The last line "while I stood measuring" is the words that just tore at my heart. As a woman I know many of us metaphorically "measure flour" in our hearts never sure how much love to give as if we must guard ourselves against a repeat offense. At the same time we pray that God will throw a bag of flour at our feet and forgive our every flaw even if it's repeated daily. We need to become more like Him.

This poem also reminds me of my husband. I could easily see him do the same and "toss the bag" without question. He is generous and I love him for that.

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