Sunday, November 27, 2022

It’s Sunday. Let’s Talk About Sin.                   


         Sin is probably not a topic most people want to venture into discussing, but, what the hell. It’s Sunday. A bunch of folks have gone to a house of worship already today, I’d imagine. A few have sought forgiveness I suppose, while others have amassed simply to hear the Word of their choice, to show reverence to some higher entity, to reconnect with neighbors and friends, to feel puffed up with piety, or most likely to chitchat, gossip, or tell a tale or two to a willing ear. Why not? Worshiping sites provide people a place to congregate, to share a sanctimonious moment, to allow faith to sink in . . . one more time.

            Not everyone is a churchgoer. As a child I was, out of deference to my parents who insisted. As an adult, I am not. Instead of being inside a building with men and women I do not know, I would rather take a walk outside with my best friends – my husband and my two German Shepherds who love me and help me feel whole. I’d rather feel a crisp, cool wind kiss my cheeks as I look at the cloud-streaked sky, multiple shades of blue and grey. I’d rather take in fall’s display as branches of trees quiver in the breeze and drop leaf, after leaf, after leaf, the colors – orange, crimson, yellow, russet, bronze, and brown – feasts to my senses. I’d rather take in the smells – wood burning in a fireplace - the house toasty nearby, pungent whiffs of molding, rotting leaves that remind me of childhood, and myriad smells of breakfast escaping the confines of kitchens somewhere – bacon, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin spice, brewing coffee, fresh bread. Ah! So yes, I’d rather consign my reverence to the outdoors; it refreshes me and reminds me of a few things that make the world more beautiful. These daily respites, my walks – not only on Sundays – keep me grounded and give me peace amid a society that is sadly wrought with wickedness. And that brings me back to sin.

            I doubt few folks have escaped learning about the seven deadly sins – cardinal sins, capital sins – that, if not careful, can plague any living, breathing soul. Need a reminder? They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride, not necessarily listed in order of weight or potency. Every single transgression has the power to cause pain, has the strength to harm, to damage, to wound, to defame, and each has touched us all. It’s true and depending on the giver or receiver some folks have been affected to a greater degree than others. I want to believe that most human beings sin in moderation. They don’t hurt themselves or others intentionally. Sometimes a stinking little sin will sneak out though, and when that happens, most of us have the ability to say, “I’m sorry.” We learn to clean up the mess, to make “things” right again, to learn our lessons. That is not always the case, however.

            I won’t name names. I don’t need to do that. Any person who has read this far can think of one . . . two . . . damn, a whole slew of famous and infamous individuals who literally wallow in the seven deadly sins, some floundering up to their eyeballs. And there’s no stopping them. Many are so caught up in the need for power and control that they have lost sight of what they are doing – or maybe not; fact is, quite likely they never had a clue that a difference in right and wrong existed in the first place. I doubt if a thousand visits to a house of worship, not to mention a few walks in the woods, could change these offenders’ ways of thinking, of living, of abusing, or of creating grief, pain, and chaos wherever they go. It’s simply not in their DNA. Is there an answer, a solution to combating such cardinal sinners? Maybe, though I am skeptical.

            For anyone who holds hope as a means to an end, I pray he or she is correct. Finding faith in hope is admirable indeed though I must be honest: my advocacy waivers. The notion of hope and faith facing off with grave sinners gave me rare pause today, however, so I decided to share my thinking. Afterall, it is Sunday.




Saturday, November 12, 2022

 I Can’t Feel My Heart 


I have had this quotation - “I can’t feel my heart.” -  scrawled on a post-it note, pasted to my desk beneath my computer for a very long time. I keep going back to it. The words were spoken by a child, and I doubt many folks could find a better way to describe absolute angst and complete anguish over being treated unfairly. It is likely the words were not spoken in English; more likely they were uttered through tears in Spanish. The child? I don’t know. 

Where this little urchin is now is a mystery. He could be anywhere – with strangers, alone still, incarcerated in a facility, with an unfamiliar family member, or hopefully with Mama or Papa at last. His plaintive words were overheard at a border detention center some years ago . . . and they have stuck with me. My upbringing probably plays a role.

I grew up in a home whose parents sought religion as a refuge. When a Southern Baptist mother and a Roman Catholic father meet and marry, well, one can imagine the result. It was a bit confusing. My brother and I followed orders and attended Severns Valley Baptist Church when we were instructed to do so. The result of our religious background caused two uncertain young adults to choose different spiritual paths – he to follow the beliefs of another religion, and me to no religion at all other than a silent, reverent, spiritual bent that charges that I do no intentional harm to myself or anyone one else who crosses my path. And that notion brings me back to the sad child who could not feel his heart. 

            When I recall “religion”, two brief phrases always have stuck with me, probably because my mother touted them over and over. The first, “Be ye kind.” The second was “Do unto others as you would have done unto to you.” It’s pretty basic actually. I believed those words then and I do now. I don’t have to attend church or be a part of an organized religion to know that my mother was correct. So, who in some random part of our country, had the right to be so unkind, to cause a little kid to cry out, “I can’t feel my heart.”? And more to the point, why?

            I sound na├»ve, I suppose, but as I have watched recent events play out on the news, incidents that surely have perpetuated pain and uncertainty among fellow human beings - children and adults - I have thought back on those words, “I can’t feel my heart.” I realize that the need some individuals have for power and control plays into tragic scenarios that occur in our world over and over again. How I wish I could change the thinking of a few people. I can’t though. That is a fact. 

            What I can do, is my tiny part. Compassion, respect, and kindness are fundamental it seems to me, but clearly others think differently. It’s a shame, really, because why on God’s Earth would anyone want to make a child sad enough to say his heart hurts, or that he can't feel it at all?