Forgiveness is not closure—
not the signing of a dotted line and a handshake
nor the drop of a gavel, Not Guilty,
nor the immediate restoration of trust.
Forgiveness is a door
reopened, blowing shut
in every storm, reopened—
a trail we open and offer
to climb together riddled
with switchbacks, darkness,
cacti in flower. And we must choose again
when we swear we saw that same stump
months ago. Yes—but last time
wasn't it more dead
and less rotted?

True grace, offered
or accepted or asked-for
is true freedom—
not the freedom to sin, to forget,
but freedom from sin
and guilt, from the rock
and the hard place, a way out
of our infinite loops
and pain that rebounds
and reverberates. Grace is an invitation
to a nighttime hard hike lighted
just a few steps ahead, but lighted still
farther than what trust we've earned.

To forgive
is not a heroic decision—
Grace sincere and abundant for today, offered
or accepted or asked-for
is one stepping stone
caked in mud.
Grace is given; trust is earned
in faithful footfalls, laboring by grace—
and heroism happens
only in retrospect, looking down
from the vista where you rest
holding your human friend,
counting the steps so far
in faith and darkness opening.