Linked below is a news item describing a powerful work from a Slovakian sculptor that captures the post-abortion grief and remorse of a young woman. The worldwide response to this sculpture has been nothing less than astounding. There are many things that can be read into this work, but a couple of impressions strike me immediately. First, the anguish expressed by the female figure knowing that she terminated a life, and then the unseen hand of her unborn child reaching out to her in a gesture of love, mercy, forgiveness, and ultimately reconciliation. Probably more than the sculptor realized, his work artfully captures several of the most important elements of Christianity.
As an Orthodox Christian I am reminded of our Holy Mystery of Confession, what the Catholics now call the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As Christians we ask God for His forgiveness and we open ourselves to redemption by admitting our sins. As individuals we confess before God while standing face-to-face with our priest-confessor who then delivers absolution by covering our bowed heads with his priestly stole. He then blesses us with the sign of the cross upon our head, and leaves us with the admonition to “Go Forth and Sin No More”.
To forgive means to restore a bond of love and communion when there has been a rupture. Sin ruptures our relationship with God and our brothers and sisters. The first step taken in seeking forgiveness is an admission. This applies equally to any situation where a bond has been broken. The 40-day Lenten period before Easter begins with Forgiveness Sunday. One of the rituals of Forgiveness Sunday involves all church members personally asking each other for forgiveness. Our mutual forgiveness serves to heal and bind us together as brothers and sisters for which we are redeemed to each other through Christ. This sculpture therefore captures one of Jesus Christ’s most important teachings, that no matter how great our sins, we all have the opportunity to receive forgiveness and mend the bonds we have broken, but we first have to admit to ourselves, and confess that we have sinned. As for the photo above, Wow! Silently it teaches us that forgiveness is very powerful and magical. It has the power to transform lives.