Forgiveness is centered inside of you, just like love. In prison, you see all different versions of unforgivingness. And being a firefighter in prison, you understand the unforgiving nature of nature. Forgiveness occurs in the earth—just the way nature balances itself, you learn how to balance yourself. Forgiveness is just a wonderful thing…it feels like a superpower.
Ra Avis is the blogger behind the award-winning blog Rarasaur, an author of three books, and a widow who was formerly incarcerated—the practice of forgiveness is an inextricable part of Ra’s life and all that she creates.
Ra Avis has lived through more than most of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. While most of us have an idea of what forgiveness means, Ra offers an expanded understanding that begins first and foremost with the self. Forgiveness is largely framed as an external act—but just as with love, forgiveness radiates from the inside out.
In this episode, Ra brings her beautiful vulnerability out into the open as she shares her life journey, including her incarceration, working as a firefighter in prison, and losing her husband just two months before she was released. While these experiences have all weighed heavily on her, they have also expanded and strengthened Ra’s commitment to forgiveness.
Ra talks about how prison allowed her to truly understand what it means to forgive and the interwoven nature of radical love and forgiveness. She also discusses her belief in the power of the collective and the integral supporting role the blogging community played in getting her through her time in prison.
Letting go requires practice, and it’s a skill that Ra believes we can all work on and strengthen over time. Ra’s story is a powerful example of what can happen when we let things go, accept ourselves with unconditional love, and find our freedom.
In this episode, Ra shares:
- Her experience of firefighter training as part of her incarceration and what stood out to her.
- The role that forgiveness has played in shaping her life and her work.
- How the heaviness of holding onto things can permeate every part of your life.
- Her difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no, and how she’s working on it.
- The importance of cordoning off time for a dedicated creative practice.
- Her recharging downtime rituals, like reading, bath-times, and working/relaxing near a loved one.
- Why going to prison deepened her appreciation and understanding of forgiveness.
- The support she received from the blogging community during her incarceration.
- Her thoughts on why blogging is far from dead.
- Insights on sensitivity reading, what it entails, and her work as a sensitivity reader.
- Many of the misconceptions people have around prisons and incarceration.
- The parallels between losing a loved one and being in prison.
- Supportive words for people who are struggling with forgiveness.
Ra Avis is an award-winning blogger, and the author of Sack Nasty: Prison Poetry, Dinosaur-Hearted, and Flowers and Stars. She is a once-upon-a-time inmate, a reluctantly-optimistic widow, and a generational storyteller. Ra reads her poetry live at events throughout Southern California and writes regularly at rarasaur.com.
Connect with Ra:
Sack Nasty: Prison Poetry by Ra Avis
Dinosaur-Heated by Ra Avis
Flowers and Stars by Ra Avis
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur
No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu
Everything’s Not Bigger by Britt Skrabanek