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Forgive Others, Forgive Yourself


Ceramic, paper mache, fabric, thread, straw, stuffing, sand, glue, and dirt


Two stuffed turkey vultures with ceramics heads and talons stand atop thirty-three paper mache rocks picking at a dead fish made of cloth and unfired clay. 

While listening to a guided forgiveness meditation I had a waking dream where I saw two turkey vultures standing upon rocks eating a dead fish.

The unclear connection between these large, bald-headed, mysterious birds and forgiveness stuck with me, and I couldn’t shake the need to bring them to life.

While doing research on turkey vultures I learned a revelatory fact—these birds are purifiers. With the ability to digest and metabolize toxins, they actively lower the toxicity of an ecosystem by consuming dead organisms.

Forgiveness, in its own mysterious way, does this too.

I found it important to note that purification is first defined very physically as “the removal of contaminants from something.” It is then defined metaphysically as “the process of making something spiritually or ceremonially clean.”

Toxicity spreads through an ecosystem in a cyclical way, while the toxicity that exists in our human relationships moves through us cyclically, too. Whether it be intergenerationally or interpersonally, through forgiveness exists the ability to digest and metabolize this toxicity, this hurt. And so forgiveness purifies, too.

When I see turkey vultures flying in their graceful circles, or I see them on the beach of the lake, I am reminded of forgiveness, an ultimate act of love, and feel within myself where it is needed most. I am thankful for these big birds and their odd ways and grateful for their noble acts of cleansing, digesting, transforming, and purifying.

This piece is as much an ode to turkey vultures as it is forgiveness.

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