November 20, 2012


“I am sorry, please forgive me”, often, we say it lightly and without much thought. Sometimes, these words give us an advantage, we are perceived differently. Asking to be forgiven and forgiving someone is powerful enough to move us to a different place in our hearts and minds. Suddenly, we feel lighter and more compassionate toward the one to whom the apology is addressed. It changes us and it changes them. Forgiving is like the crocus breaking through the frozen ground. Forgiving is life affirming. While an apology may be quick with an instant reward forgiving is much harder work. Forgiving is spiritual work.

What is forgiving? When you forgive someone who has deeply hurt you, you let go of resentment and the urge to seek revenge, no matter how deserving of these things the wrongdoer may be. You give the great gifts of acceptance, generosity and love. Forgiving, however, is not about forgetting the injustice, condoning or excusing the wrongdoer; it means you no longer condemn or hold the person(s) in contempt. If you forgive only superficially and continue to hold the person(s) in contempt the work of forgiving is incomplete because you consider yourself morally superior. Forgiving from a moral superiority is not transformative and not life affirming. The frozen ground remains too hard for the flower to push upward into the warming sunlight.


See more on Forgiveness hereBreaking through

Dr. Robert Enright devotes his life to researching and teaching forgiveness. Undoubtedly his work is “groundbreaking. Dr. Enright offers a new understanding of forgiveness as an act of love that profoundly affects not just the person forgiving but also the community. We will use Dr. Enright’s model of Forgiveness.  In the Forgiveness Workshop we will work through Dr. Enright’s a model of the forgiving process. According to Dr. Enright, forgiveness is more than a onetime act; it is a way of life.

I begin with an apology for cancelling the Forgiveness Workshop scheduled for November 18. Dr. Enright’s interview is a good way to begin the workshop, Dr. Robert Enright Interview

The new date, is December 2, 4:30 PM, in our new home at  698 E. Wetmore Rd, Suite 200, Tucson, AZ 85705.


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Gabriella was born in Budapest Hungary. Some of her family still resides in Hungary. After escaping the Communist regime in the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution, Gabriella's family settled in Cleveland OH. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and attended college but did not earn a degree. She met her husband in Devon PA, and soon they were married and began family life in PA. Only a few years married, John and Gabriella moved to FL to be with Gabriella's aging parents. Two o their three children were born Florida. After the children began school, Gabriella volunteered in schools and libraries. Her love for swimming drew her into the world of aquatics. Part time coaching jobs evolved into career aquatic management. Her children out of the home, Gabriella worked full time as an aquatic manger, coach and swim instructor. In 2001, John and Gabriella's plans to ease into retirement in Tucson changed drastically when John suffered a heart attack in 2002. John’s amazing recovery after bypass surgery allowed Gabriella to seek a new career. It was a life changing experience for both of them. Gabriella returned to school at the University of AZ and John took over household responsibilities. A shift occurred in their lives. Gabriella felt called to become a spiritual care provider. Preparing for seminary, she chose interdisciplinary program, combining Psychology, Family and Religious Studies. She graduated with honors in 2006. Gabriella and John moved to Berkeley for her to begin seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. Gabriella was accepted on the ordination track in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. Her goal was to becoming a chaplain. John's health crisis necessitated a move from Berkeley back to Tucson in 2008. Gabriella transferred to Earlham School of Religion to complete the Master’s program. In her senior year, working in required Supervised Ministry, Gabriella created a dual ministry; Circle Community, a sharing, praying and studying support group and worked as a crisis advocate in Tucson area hospitals. Most of her family was present in Cincinnati OH when Gabriella was ordained in July 2012. In July of 2011 she was ordained in the Swedeborgian Church and accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Church of Southwest FL. Soon after her ordination Gabriella accepted a call to become the pastor to the New Church of Southwest FL in 2011. John, a VA patient needed comprehensive medical care unavailable in Fort Myers. For Gabriella ministry begins at home. Once again new a health crisis changed their life. They moved back to Tucson AZ. Back in Tucson, Gabriella found ministry opportunities with Circle Community, did workshops and conducted weekly Prayer Meditations at Rincon U.C.C. She completed a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction. In mid October 2012, Gabriella began to work as a Chaplain for Harmony Hospice. The job all she had expected. She found great satisfaction working with patients and their families. Gabriella left the per diem position with Harmony for a full time job with Valor HospiceCare. Here too, she worked with grieving families, conducted grief support groups and lead Community Memorial services during the same time that her husband's health was spiraling downwards. Gabriella resigned her job to care for John in the last months of his life. John died in April 2014. Life became chaotic. An intense search a chaplain position in Tucson and other parts of the country was unsuccessful. Peers suggested Gabriella look into open churches with the Swedenborgian Church. She candidated in Kansas with two churches. She was called to pastor the Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches in July 2014. A new life began with the move to rural Kansas. In August 2014, Gabriella began to serve as the Pastor of the two churches.

One thought on “Forgiveness”

  1. Inspiration and Prayer for the week of 12/2/12:
    This week is the start of Advent with the focus on HOPE.
    Sometimes do you feel like there is no hope? Do you
    wonder what you can do when you are feeling powerless
    and everything seems hopeless?
    There is one thing that we can do when we
    are feeling powerless and hopeless. We can help
    another human being by praying for them and we can help our-
    selves by praying to the Lord for us asking for an intuitive
    thought, a decision, or inspiration. God always
    has a plan for our lives and it is up to us to surrender
    ourselves to him letting Him guide our steps. Life
    runs in a smooth, peaceful flow when we listen
    to the Lord and let Him handle it. Try it , you’ll
    like it!
    “Our Lord who has dominion over all in our world,
    help us to let go of our concerns for our life, and
    surrender the direction and care to you. Let
    us be listeners of your voice, and
    action takers of your plan for us. Having
    faith and trust in you and your wonderful
    care, we are able to have Hope for our
    future and peace in our lives instead
    of fear and chaos around us. Thank you for
    your peace, comfort, love and plenty in our lives.
    We are grateful for all that we have and the gifts
    you have bestowed upon us. Give us the power to
    follow you and to will carry out your will for us. AMEN.”
    Love, Peace and Hope, Rev. Judith
    M. Judith Vandergrift
    MDiv., BS, Spiritual Coach

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