Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
For starters, I have stopped going to church. I don’t know why, exactly. I tend to blame it on Covid, but that’s not the whole truth. (You know the secrets of my heart, Lord, so I won’t elaborate.) Without church, I have almost completely ignored Lent. (Then again, haven’t we been in a kind of “Lent” for over a year now? I’m not sure what else I could have given up.) Which means Holy Week snuck up on me. I didn’t even realize it was looming until I got an email from my choir director. I’m ashamed of myself, God. I miss being where two or more are gathered in your name. I miss the hymns, the prayers, the sermons, the whole shebang. I will return to church on Easter Sunday and sing with my choir – we’re still meeting outside, in masks – and I hope you’ll take me back. Sincerely, The Prodigal Daughter
I blew off Women’s Wellness Week at USCB. My friend Bonnie worked hard to put it together and it looked absolutely fabulous. According to the website, I could have honored my inner goddess, reconnected with my feminine powers, strengthened my intuitive wisdom, healed my womb space… and a whole lot more. But I never signed up, and again, I’m not sure why. One part laziness, two parts Zoom fatigue? My daughter was home for Spring Break? I got the Covid vax and it wiped me out? Yes to all of the above, but as with church, I have many excuses and no good reasons. Just a general pandemic-induced inertia I can’t seem to shake.
Lord, I’ve been a bad birder. A few weeks ago, the SC Department of Natural Resources asked us to take down our bird feeders until April 1st, after an increase in mortality reports for Pine Siskins. Apparently, Pine Siskins are more susceptible than other species to getting sick from dirty bird feeders. All I had to do was take mine down ‘til early April, when the siskins begin to migrate, but I dragged my feet for days. March is primetime for birding, and I just didn’t want to do it, Lord. The guilt finally got to me – temporarily – and I brought in my feeders, then gave them the scrubbing and soaking of their lives. They sat in the laundry room staring at me for a few days – as I stared out the window at my bird-bereft yard – until I finally caved and put them back out. Ten days too early. It was a selfish thing to do, and I am not proud. But despite my unworthiness, my beloved yard birds are back. That’s grace in action right there, God. I’m humbled.
I have been watching too much cable news. And I know better, God. I really do. Just a few issues ago, on this very page, I wrote about Matt Taibbi’s book Hate, Inc, in which the former Rolling Stone reporter describes a 21st century media industry that has mastered the art of monetizing anger, paranoia, and distrust, offering up “news” that is really more like entertainment for its respective polarized audiences. Nobody bears more blame for this phenomenon – and, in my opinion, for our national divisions – than our major cable news channels. (Well, except maybe Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, but more on that later.) With their mandate for riveting eyeballs 24/7 and tailoring each story to fit their audience’s preferred political narrative, these cable news shows – especially at night – have become little more than gossipy propaganda organs. They are only partially informative, are often misleading, and are almost wholly agitating and stress-inducing. I know all this, God, and yet night after night, they lead me into temptation. Deliver me from evil, Lord! Help me turn off the TV. I can find any information I need in the newspaper, or online.
Speaking of which, I have fallen short on social media. Big time. I don’t know how it happens, God. I have the best intentions. I really do. But time after time, those intentions lead me astray. Your Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, saying, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I feel you, Brother Paul. This is me on Facebook. Every. Day. I always show up with the loftiest aims – longing to clarify and elucidate, enlighten and illuminate . . . and then somebody is snarky or judge-y or just plain wrong – according to yours truly, that is – and I’m right there with the worst of them, rolling around in the virtual mud.
The problem, of course, is pride. Mine and everybody else’s. Am I right, God? Like plenty of your servants before him, C.S. Lewis believed pride was “the essential vice, the utmost evil.” According to Lewis, “Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
Even though I’m a huge fan girl, I realize Lewis was just a man, God, and that he didn’t get everything right. But his take on pride seems pretty dead-on to me; and nowhere do I see it more clearly illustrated than on social media, where I fall victim to pride – my own and everybody else’s – day after day. Perhaps, instead of sallying forth on my high horse, fancying myself the Queen of Elucidation and Illumination, I should open myself more fully to genuine communication. To listening and learning, not just telling and teaching. And to the possibility that occasionally, just occasionally, I might be the one who’s, gulp, wrong. Can you help me with that, God? What the world needs now – besides love, sweet love – is less pride and more humility. But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it’s hard! Why is it so damn hard?
I know what you’re thinking, God: “Girl, you really need to get back to church.” You’re right – duh – and I’ll be there Easter Sunday, I promise. We’re singing the Hallelujah Chorus. It may not be our finest performance – we’re pretty rusty – but it will be sincere and full of joy. I can’t wait.
Anyway, thanks for listening, God, and especially for all the mercy. You’re the best. Literally. See you Sunday. Amen.