The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World

The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World

Author: Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

As a fan of forgiveness as a healing modality for many years now, I’m delighted to see an increasing number of forgiveness “how-to” books on the market. Even if they’re not well-written and/or a mash-up of ideas and processes from earlier works, I rejoice in the ascendancy of forgiving!

Neither poorly-written nor a mash-up, The Book of Forgiving is, quite simply, terrific. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Reverend Mpho Tutu, have created a beautiful book that clearly illustrates why forgiveness is so important to finding peace. Each chapter contains stories, some personal, about wrongs committed and forgiveness given, as well as simple exercises and meditations to do to invite forgiveness into our lives.

Tutu’s Fourfold Path of Forgiveness includes:

  1. Telling the story
  2. Naming the hurt
  3. Granting forgiveness
  4. Renewing or releasing the relationship

Each step in the process is fully explored with potential stumbling blocks discussed and gentle practices to overcome them suggested. Throughout, Tutu emphasizes that forgiveness involves the courageous choice to be willing to forgive and a commitment to doing the internal work necessary to embrace it.

Contrary to the adage “forgive and forget,” Tutu explains that forgiveness never means passive acceptance or minimizing wrongs committed. Individuals are encouraged to be accountable for their actions, and to recall a time when they required forgiveness from another. As Tutu reminds us, we are all human, all capable of doing wrong, and all capable of forgiving wrongs done to us.

One ritual I particularly liked is called “Carrying the Stone.” A symbolic exercise for what we experience when we refuse to let go of anger and resentment toward the person who wronged us, the ritual involves carrying a palm-sized stone in one’s non-dominant hand for a period of six hours without setting it down once. Reflective journaling completes the ritual.
For those of you on Facebook, the Tutus are hosting a 30-day Forgiveness Challenge beginning May 4, 2014. I’ve joined and will report back on my experience. Won’t you join me? Register for the challenge at


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