War devastates. War kills. War tears apart the fabric of society often shredding it to pieces. Rebuilding a society is a complex and painstaking process not to be taken lightly. Often it is the most vulnerable people in our society, the women, children and elderly who suffer most. And often it is the women who come together in the search for peace to talk about forgiveness.
In the very complex political landscape that has emerged following over fifty years of conflict, Colombia has taken steps towards what can be considered the building blocks of a political forgiveness process. Work is being done on an individual and community level through a number of programs some of which include the Foundation for Reconciliation and on a national level as well through the “Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition” which is tasked with constructing a historical truth from the stories of millions of victims. This has reinvigorated hope among victims for healing their long-held traumas.
The Colombian “Commission for the Clarification of the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition” is partnering with an organization, PeaceWomen Across the Globe and its Peace Table program. The Peace Table program creates spaces in which women can talk to one another and provides opportunities for voices to be heard and ensures that women become part of the peace process and that their experiences are not being forgotten. Their stories are powerful and as women shared their experiences of pain and suffering, they also speak of what they did to survive. In Columbia part of Peace Table experience is walking through a dense forest helping women re-experiencing nature and re-awakening memories. The group stopped at a tree where they saw a yellow note attached to it. It said, “I have understood that I can’t stay with this pain; I want to learn to forgive.” The women recognized the importance of this message and the kind of healing only forgiveness can bring.
At the end of the Peace table each woman received a pot of earth, seeds and a paper flower with motivational sayings which is what the picture above shows us. (@ PeaceWomen Across the Globe.)They also learned that they could talk about their pain and suffering, that forgiveness was about their inner healing, and that they could forgive which did not mean they would forget and at the same time have inner peace.