The All-community Reads program that I referenced yesterday centered around restorative justice utilizing the book Picking Cotton. The book shares the journey of Jennifer Thompson, at the time a college student who was raped, and Ronald Cotton who spent 11 years in prison for the crime after being identified by Jennifer in a line-up…

…and their unlikely friendship after DNA exonerated Ronald.

I cannot even imagine.

Their book and their public presentation were described as “simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting” as they recounted the process that led to the wrongful conviction and their subsequent forgiveness of all who were impacted.

When Ronald first met Jennifer and immediately told her “I forgive you”, she realized that he was free, “truly free” and she had to forgive herself for the error, her family for not supporting her, the system for its inherent biases and to forgive her actual rapist. “The burden was too heavy to hold,” she said. “I didn’t want to carry that.”

If Ronald and Jennifer can forgive after the tragedy that they both experienced, perhaps you can find it in your heart to let go of a burden that you are bearing. Give yourself a gift and let go of the anger and hurt that you hold against someone. May you find peace this season.


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