The Olive Branch Blog

Forgiveness Flour

I came across a poem the other day that caused me to reflect and ponder about how I forgive others. I would like to share it with you. The poem, written in the first person features an unnamed wife who answers her door to find a young woman, in shame, timidly seeking flour, which symbolizes forgiveness, to make bread.

Forgiveness Flour
by Marguerite Stewart

When I went to the door, at the whisper of knocking,
I saw Simeon Gantner’s daughter, Kathleen, standing
There, in her shawl and her shame, sent to ask
“Forgiveness Flour” for her bread. “Forgiveness Flour,”
We call it in our corner. If one has erred, one
Is sent to ask for flour of his neighbors. If they loan it
To him, that means he can stay, but if they refuse, he had
Best take himself off. I looked at Kathleen . . .
What a jewel of a daughter, though not much like her
Father, more’s the pity. “I’ll give you flour,” I
Said, and went to measure it. Measuring was the rub.
If I gave too much, neighbors would think I made sin
Easy, but if I gave too little, they would label me
“Close.” While I stood measuring, Joel, my husband
Came in from the mill, a great bag of flour on his
Shoulder, and seeing her there, shrinking in the
Doorway, he tossed the bag at her feet. “Here, take
All of it.” And so she had flour for many loaves,

While I stood measuring.

Haven't all of us at one time or another, stood at the door in our shame, asking for forgiveness flour from our neighbors, hoping that they will somehow understand our need? And all of us at other times have stood on the other side of the door with the flour to give.

I worry that at times I have been like the woman with the flour. Worried that I have to do it just right. Worried that I must measure very carefully, and exactly, not giving too little but certainly not giving too much. Yet, now as I read this, I stand in awe of the husband, who in his goodness can see the need, and not hold back, but give in abundance at the feet of those who need it.


Forgiveness is a blessing. Not only to those who are seeking it but to those of us who have such a need to give. It is for each of us who come timidly to the door, knocking with our cup outstretched. It is for each of us who answer the door, who stand measuring, afraid to give what is asked. We all need the abundance of flour to make our own bread. We have all stood at the door with our head down, cup outstretched. Let us resolve to freely give our flour in abundance.

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