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Freedom Song: Faith, Abuse, Music and Spirituality

A Lived Experience of Celebration


June Boyce-Tillman

This book is an autobiographical account of the development of an authentic interiority. It charts the way in which the Christian faith in which the author was enculturated was refined by her lived experience of music, abuse, forgiveness, interfaith dialogue, gender and vocation (into teaching and priesthood). The author describes how music and spirituality can create a route into forgiveness by creatively transforming («mulching») childhood abuse into celebration. Her work challenges established therapeutic models and suggests a variety of alternative tools, including created ritual.

The volume is set out as a series of meditations on the themes contained in the Lord’s Prayer; it can be read in separate sections, as well as in its totality. The author’s life is perceived as a crystal that can be viewed through various lenses, illustrated by different styles of writing. These include narrative accounts written in a personal style; hymns, songs and poems that condense her thinking around a theme; and more academic reflection, using other people’s writing and experiences to understand her own.

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Chapter 12: And Forgive Us Our Trespasses: Forgiveness


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And Forgive Us Our Trespasses:1 Forgiveness

Dear Mister God,

I know it is difficult being you.

I have tried and am giving up.2


I wrote the letter which opens this chapter during a particularly difficult relationship and it highlights some of the dilemmas posed by the Church’s traditional teaching on forgiveness. It is God who is eternally all-forgiving and all-loving; but for humans, forgiveness is more of a process than a static feeling. And curiously it was that process of relinquishing and letting go, of allowing God (so common in the literature of contemplatives) that proved to be the beginning of a new phase in the marriage. It allowed me to feel the anger that my aspiring to perfection had prevented. This anger empowered me to say things that should have been said much earlier and to cause the relationship to enter the crisis that it should have entered long before. What could have happened if I had felt it before? I would never know. But certainly, it was with this letter that the dynamic of forgiveness could start. ← 267 | 268 →

The Marriage

The marriage had started fairly well, although my husband had taken some time to ask me. We had gone on holiday to Scotland. We camped on the side of Loch Ness. It was brilliant – so peaceful that I was sure he would ask me...

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