The Forgiveness Handbook: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for the Journey to Freedom, Healing and Peace

This practical handbook—full of wise perspectives, gentle guidance and helpful spiritual practices—will be a welcome companion on your journey toward freedom and wholeness. Features over fifty contributors from many different faiths, backgrounds and perspectives.

Created by the Editors at SkyLight Paths
Introduction by The Rev. Canon Marianne Wells Borg

6 x 9, 256 pp | 978-1-59473-577-6

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Inspiration, encouragement and spiritual practice from across faith traditions for all who seek hope and wholeness through letting go.

We all carry wounds that can bind up our hearts and keep us from fully loving—and fully living—in the present. Our pain may come from devastating trauma or unconscious resentment from accumulated everyday grievances. No matter the depth of the hurt, in the warmth and wisdom of this inspiring guidebook readers will find courage to face the past and begin the process of letting go.

Contributors active as spiritual directors, clergy, religious scholars and retreat leaders draw on the depths of their own spiritual practice, religious traditions and sacred texts to offer hope and encouragement for the journey of forgiveness. They provide a rich variety of practices for cultivating an open and forgiving heart, both toward ourselves and others, as well as step-by-step guidance in the process of forgiveness. They share their insights on:

  • Healing ourselves through forgiveness
  • Overcoming obstacles to forgiveness
  • Letting go of resentment, blame and anger
  • Forgiving ourselves
  • Deciding whether to restore relationships
  • Asking for and accepting forgiveness
  • Receiving Divine forgiveness
  • Fostering mercy in our hearts
  • Seeking peace and reconciliation in our communities

For use by individuals as well as groups in worship or counseling settings, this wide range of perspectives, offered with grace and compassion, will gently move readers toward the wholeness and freedom that come from true forgiveness.

Contributors include:
Rev. Carolyne Call • Dr. Joan Brown Campbell • Paul Wesley Chilcote, PhD • William Cleary • Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener • Marcia Ford • Rabbi Edwin Goldberg • Kent Ira Groff • Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar • Rev. Timothy J. Mooney • Gordon Peerman • M. Basil Pennington, OCSO • Imam Jamal Rahman • Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson, PhD • Rev. Nanette Sawyer • Rabbi Rami Shapiro • Rev. Susan Sparks • Sohaib N. Sultan • Rev. Jane Vennard • Rev. Peter Wallace • .... and many others

    “Opens possibilities.... Well-selected ... comforting anecdotes, psychological insights, and accessible and readily applicable exercises that can be undertaken alone or with others.”

    American Library Association’s Booklist



    Nancy L. Bieber is a Quaker spiritual director, retreat leader, psychologist, teacher and author of Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way (SkyLight Paths). She also teaches at Lancaster Theological Seminary and is a core leader with Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development.

    Rev. Carolyne Call, a minister and spiritual adviser for those in the process of divorce, also conducts workshops and retreats on spiritual, psychological and moral development and is author of Spiritually Healthy Divorce: Navigating Disruption with Insight & Hope (SkyLight Paths).

    Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell is a highly sought-after lecturer and author of Living into Hope: A Call to Spiritual Action for Such a Time as This (SkyLight Paths). She currently serves as chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women and is one of the founding members of the Council of Sages for Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion initiative.

    Nancy Barrett Chickerneo, PhD, is director of SPA Sisters: Spirit, Place and Authentic Self, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate and awaken women to their true selves through interaction with nature, creative expression and connection with other women. A licensed clinical professional counselor and registered art therapist, she is also a professional watercolor artist and author of Woman Spirit Awakening in Nature: Growing into the Fullness of Who You Are (SkyLight Paths).

    Paul Wesley Chilcote, PhD, is an academic dean, professor and a Benedictine oblate at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon. He is the author of many books, including The Imitation of Christ: Selections Annotated & Explained and John & Charles Wesley: Selections from Their Writings and Hymns—Annotated & Explained (both SkyLight Paths).

    William Cleary is a former Jesuit priest, filmmaker and composer. He is the author of many books on spirituality, including Prayers to an Evolutionary God (SkyLight Paths). His musical Chun Hyang Song was performed at the Seoul Olympics.

    Nancy Corcoran, CSJ, leads multifaith workshops and seminars on prayer, meditation and ritual and is the Catholic chaplain and director of Newman Ministry at Wellesley College and founder of grass/roots: Women’s Spirituality Center. She is also the author of Secrets of Prayer: A Multifaith Guide to Creating Personal Prayer in Your Life (SkyLight Paths).

    Linda Douty, a leading speaker on the topics of meaningful aging, personal growth and spiritual formation, is the author of How Did I Get to Be 70 When I’m 35 Inside? Spiritual Surprises of Later Life (SkyLight Paths) and other books. Linda is also a spiritual director and a contributor to Presence (the journal of Spiritual Directors International).

    Marcia Ford is a former editor of Christian Retailing magazine, an columnist and a frequent contributor to Publishers Weekly. The author of eighteen books, including The Sacred Art of Forgiveness: Forgiving Ourselves and Others through God’s Grace (SkyLight Paths), she was the religion editor of the Asbury Park Press for ten years.

    Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune is a pastor, an educator, an author and a practicing theologian and ethicist. She contributed to New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views (SkyLight Paths) and is a founder and senior analyst at the FaithTrust Institute, where she addresses sexual and domestic violence in faith communities.

    Tamar Frankiel, PhD, is president of the Academy for Jewish Religion, where she also lectures on Jewish mysticism. Judy Greenfeld is cantor at the Academy for Jewish Religion and founded the Nachshon Minyan, a community that reaches out to the unaffiliated. They coauthored Entering the Temple of Dreams: Jewish Prayers, Movements and Meditations for the End of the Day (Jewish Lights).

    Rabbi Edwin Goldberg, DHL, noted lecturer, is author of Saying No and Letting Go: Jewish Wisdom on Making Room for What Matters Most (Jewish Lights), among other books. He is the senior rabbi at Temple Sholom in Chicago and the former spiritual leader at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, Florida.

    Caren Goldman is an award-winning journalist, spiritual retreat leader and conflict resolution consultant to churches, synagogues and not-for-profit organizations. She is the author of Restoring Life’s Missing Pieces: The Spiritual Power of Remembering and Reuniting with People, Places, Things and Self (SkyLight Paths).

    Rev. Steven Greenebaum, an Interfaith minister and founder of Living Interfaith Church in Lynnwood, Washington, is the author of Practical Interfaith: How to Find Our Common Humanity as We Celebrate Diversity (SkyLight Paths). Featured in the New York Times, he speaks and leads workshops on Interfaith and compassion as the core of our diverse spiritual traditions throughout the United States and Canada.

    Kent Ira Groff, a spiritual companion for journeyers and leaders, retreat leader and writer-poet, is founding mentor of Oasis Ministries in Pennsylvania. He is author of Honest to God Prayer: Spirituality as Awareness, Empowerment, Relinquishment and Paradox (SkyLight Paths), among other books.

    Diana L. Guerrero consults and lectures on animal behavior and related topics and publishes Ark Animals, an Internet magazine dedicated to wild and domestic animal behavior. She is author of What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons from Wild and Tame Creatures (SkyLight Paths).

    Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar teaches matters of the spirit to groups throughout the United States. She is senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in the Chicago area, and the inspiring author of The Bridge to Forgiveness: Stories and Prayers for Finding God and Restoring Wholeness and God Whispers: Stories of the Soul, Lessons of the Heart (both Jewish Lights).

    Kay Lindahl teaches the sacred art of listening to a variety of groups all over the world. She is the author of Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening: A Guide to Enrich Your Relationships and Kindle Your Spiritual Life and coeditor of Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power (both SkyLight Paths), among other books. She is a cofounder of Women of Spirit and Faith and the founder of The Listening Center in Long Beach, California.

    Rabbi David Lyon is an innovative spiritual leader and educator and an active participant in interfaith activities. He is author of God of Me: Imagining God throughout Your Lifetime (Jewish Lights) and senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, Texas.

    Pastor Don Mackenzie, PhD, Imam Jamal Rahman, and Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD—now known as the Interfaith Amigos—started working together after 9/11. They have written two books together: Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi and an Imam and Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith (both SkyLight Paths). Their work is dedicated to supporting more effective interfaith dialogue that can bring greater collaboration on the major social and economic issues of our time.

    Ron Miller was chair of the religion department at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he taught for thirty years, and cofounder of Common Ground, an adult education group for interfaith religious study and dialogue since 1975. He is author of many books and articles, including The Hidden Gospel of Matthew: Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Paths).

    Diane M. Millis, PhD, is an inspirational speaker, workshop and retreat leader, organizational consultant and spiritual director. She is author of Conversation—The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction (SkyLight Paths) and is founder and director of the Journey Conversations Project.

    Rev. Timothy J. Mooney, a Presbyterian minister, visual artist and spiritual director, is author of Like a Child: Restoring the Awe, Wonder, Joy and Resiliency of the Human Spirit (SkyLight Paths). A pastor for over twenty-five years, he currently leads Community of ONE, a worshipping community in the heart of urban Denver, and offers retreats on spirituality and spiritual formation throughout the United States.

    Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell, internationally acclaimed teacher, retreat leader and speaker, is author of The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings (SkyLight Paths), among other books. Formerly warden of Iona Abbey in the Western Isles of Scotland, he is now companion theologian for the American Spirituality Center of Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico and the cofounder of Heartbeat: A Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing.

    Linda Novick frequently leads painting and yoga retreats in the United States and abroad. She is a professional artist who has been teaching painting to students of all levels for over forty years and is author of The Painting Path: Embodying Spiritual Discovery through Yoga, Brush and Color (SkyLight Paths).

    Rev. Larry J. Peacock is a retreat leader, writer and advisory board member at the Academy for Spiritual Formation. He is the author of several books, including Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Sages, Psalms and Prayer Practices (SkyLight Paths), and is executive director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in North Andover, Massachusetts.

    Gordon Peerman is an Episcopal priest, psychotherapist and teacher. He is author of Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering (SkyLight Paths) and is an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

    M. Basil Pennington, OCSO, was a monk for more than fifty years. He lived at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, and was the author of many modern spiritual classics, including Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering Prayer and Psalms: A Spiritual Commentary (both SkyLight Paths).

    Jan Phillips is an award-winning photographer, writer and national workshop leader. She is cofounder of Syracuse Cultural Workers, publisher of artwork that inspires justice, diversity and global consciousness. She is author of Divining the Body: Reclaim the Holiness of Your Physical Self (SkyLight Paths), among other books.

    Susan Quinn, a contributor to Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power (SkyLight Paths), leads a meditation group in Poinciana, Florida, and teaches several types of meditation.

    Imam Jamal Rahman, beloved teacher and retreat leader, is author of Spiritual Gems of Islam: Insights & Practices from the Qur’an, Hadith, Rumi & Muslim Teaching Stories to Enlighten the Heart & Mind and Sacred Laughter of the Sufis: Awakening the Soul with the Mulla’s Comic Teaching Stories & Other Islamic Wisdom (both SkyLight Paths), among other books.

    Marty Richards, MSW, LCSW, is a clinical social worker, an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and a popular speaker on the topics of chronic illness, Alzheimer’s disease, elder care and spirituality and aging. She is the author of Caresharing: A Reciprocal Approach to Caregiving and Care Receiving in the Complexities of Aging, Illness or Disability (SkyLight Paths).

    The Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson, PhD, is canon to the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, a noted scholar and a distinguished visiting professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He has published many books, including A Dangerous Dozen: 12 Christians Who Threatened the Status Quo but Taught Us to Live Like Jesus and The Book of Common Prayer: A Spiritual Treasure Chest—Selections Annotated & Explained (both SkyLight Paths).

    Rev. Nanette Sawyer, teacher and spiritual counselor, is author of Hospitality—The Sacred Art: Discovering the Hidden Spiritual Power of Invitation and Welcome (Skylight Paths) and a founding pastor of Grace Commons, an innovative Christian community in Chicago that holds hospitality as a core value.

    Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding communicators in her generation of Protestant clergy. Senior minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City, she is author of several books, including Sacred Speech: A Practical Guide for Keeping Spirit in Your Speech, and coauthor of Labyrinths from the Outside In: Walking to Spiritual Insight—A Beginner’s Guide (both SkyLight Paths).

    The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion’s first female primate. She is author of The Heartbeat of God: Finding the Sacred in the Middle of Everything and Gathering at God’s Table: The Meaning of Mission in the Feast of Faith (both SkyLight Paths), among other books.

    Aaron Shapiro, an award-winning poet and essayist, teaches undergraduate writing and literature at Middle Tennessee State University. A frequent speaker on topics ranging from creative writing to critical theory, he is coauthor of Writing—The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice (SkyLight Paths).

    Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions and a noted theologian, is a popular speaker on the topics of religion, theology and spirituality. He is author of the award-winning The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice and Proverbs: Annotated & Explained (both SkyLight Paths), among other books.

    Louise Silk is a spiritual teacher, integrated kabbalistic healer and professional quilter. She is author of The Quilting Path: A Guide to Spiritual Discovery through Fabric, Thread and Kabbalah (SkyLight Paths).

    Rev. Susan Sparks, the only female comedian in the country with a pulpit, is author of Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor (SkyLight Paths). She is senior pastor, and first female pastor, of the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, and won an award from Intersections International for her work to promote justice, reconciliation and peace among diverse communities.

    Aaron Spevack, PhD, assistant religion professor at Colgate University, specializes in Islamic intellectual history, including law, theology and Sufism. He is the translator and annotator of Ghazali on the Principles of Islamic Spirituality: Selections from The Forty Foundations of Religion—Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Paths).

    Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz is a spiritual leader, scholar, author and speaker to a wide range of audiences. He is the author of Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World (Jewish Lights) and currently serves as rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin, California.

    Molly Srode, a retired hospital chaplain, and her husband, Bernie Srode, a former priest, are publishers of the Senior Spirituality Newsletter and coauthors of Keeping Spiritual Balance as We Grow Older: More than 65 Creative Ways to Use Purpose, Prayer and the Power of Spirit to Build a Meaningful Retirement.

    Tom Stella is a hospice chaplain, retreat facilitator, former Catholic priest and a cofounder and director of Soul Link, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring spiritual seekers together. He is also author of Finding God Beyond Religion: A Guide for Skeptics, Agnostics & Unorthodox Believers Inside & Outside the Church (SkyLight Paths), among other books.

    Sohaib N. Sultan is a freelance journalist, public speaker and author of The Qur’an and Sayings of Prophet Muhammad: Selections Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Paths). In 2005, he was appointed as the first-ever Muslim chaplain at Yale University.

    Terry Taylor is a workshop leader and frequent commentator for public radio and other media on topics related to spirituality, peace and justice. He is executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, an organization dedicated to fostering interreligious dialogue, and author of A Spirituality for Brokenness: Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult Times (SkyLight Paths).

    Yoland Trevino is a familiar participant in international interfaith and intercultural efforts. She is a contributor to Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power (SkyLight Paths) and cocreator, coordinator and faculty member of the international program Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning and Politics, based in India.

    Rev. Jane E. Vennard, a popular teacher on prayer and spiritual practice, offers lectures and leads retreats in ecumenical settings. She is the author of Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul (SkyLight Paths) and is ordained in the United Church of Christ to a ministry of teaching and spiritual direction.

    The Rev. Peter Wallace is author of The Passionate Jesus: What We Can Learn from Jesus about Love, Fear, Grief, Joy and Living Authentically (SkyLight Paths), among other books, and is executive producer of Day1, an acclaimed ecumenical radio ministry.

    Cynthia Winton-Henry teaches people to unlock the wisdom of the body through movement and creativity. She is author of Dance—the Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice (SkyLight Paths) and is cofounder of InterPlay, an international not-for-profit organization with locations in over fifty cities on five continents.