Virtues And Sins
As we open the conversations on the seven deadly sins and virtues, memories of how eleven years ago I laid myself naked to the readers of my earlier blog. Throughout the month of May, we will be discussing the teachings promulgated by the Church in modern times and you are invited to reflect on how your life might have been affected by them. Our underlying question is what kind of life are you living? The follow-up question is whether this is the life that you want or are you merely existing, making do according to society’s standards and norms?
If those two were not enough to get you thinking, by mid-month we hope that you would be consciously examining these sins and virtues – not in a religious fashion necessarily but in practical, contemporary terms. Are they relevant to your life today?
Opening this conversation by republishing a post shared with readers 11 years ago. It is a glimpse into my life, a portion of my journey and you are invited to see my nakedness and sins. Be warned or advised that my use of the word sins is with the understanding of “missing the mark,” and not the traditional biblical sense.
If you would like to follow along with this story, as well as those of the Contributors over the course of the month, consider subscribing and joining our community. The ‘obligations’ for being a member are few. In fact, there is only one – a desire to live authentically. As the lead blogger here, I willingly open myself to you. I am here to support you as I am able to, when and however needed. You may contact me and we can “speak” privately if any of the issues we discuss here touches you and you need a listening ear.
Regarding this post, there will be no extended introduction other than to say that I knew the time had come to reshare it. At first publishing in 2005, I had no idea how many parts and what exactly would be shared. All I asked then and now, is that you read (Part Two next week) with compassion, not sympathy, with love, not judgement and with a sense of the hope and strength that it was written with.
Although the posts this month are not of any religious persuasion, many might be considered spiritual and extremely personal. In my case, I use the word “sacred” trying to describe the veneration I hold for all words that serve as a link, a connector between my experience and The Divine. By using Sacred Words to introduce the following quotations, my intention is to share with you words that are dedicated to Truth and to what is holy in our experiences as human beings:
“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.” Isak Dinesen (1885 – 1962)
“Only when women rebel against patriarchal standards does female muscle become more accepted.” Gloria Steinem (b. 1934)
“I think it worse to be poor in mind than in purse, to be stunted and belittled in soul, made a coward, made a liar, made mean and slavish, accustomed to fawn and prevaricate, and “manage” by base arts a husband or a father, – I think this is worse than to be kicked with hobnailed shoes.” Frances Power Cobbé (1822 – 1904)
All of the preceding are from Mary Bigg’s Women’s Words: The Columbia Book of Quotations by Women and these specific words came to me when a regular reader of my earlier blog prodded me. She identified herself as my biggest fan – whatever that meant. I preferred to identify her as my latest woman-friend. See, there was a man by the name of André, a tarot card reader who I had met on the beaches of Ocho Rios in Jamaica back in 2002, who told me that there is a long line of women standing behind me – supporting and giving me their strength.
In 2005, “C” was the latest in this line.
She lived in Ontario and we communicated by email and through Yahoo Messenger. A few months into our communications, I knew she came into my experience to teach me something – to pull me up to a higher level of authenticity. One would never imagine that at first, if you were looking only at the surface. To the casual onlooker, it was C, not I, who needed to be pulled up. Her life was a “mess” – her personal relationship was not simply on the rocks but dead at the bottom of the ocean, bills piling up and little work coming in. However, things are never as they seem.
Soon after listening to an audio post of mine she sent me an email. That precipitated an extended exchange of emails between us. Here is some of what she wrote in one:
Can it be that all this time I have been talking to you online I was so wrapped up in my own pain that I didn’t recognize your own?
Having just now listened to your audio-blog I have an intense feeling of selfishness and I need to address this. The word selfish is not one I use often or use lightly… I believe it to be one of the most misused words in the English language…so when the word comes to my tongue (or fingertips, as the case may be) I mean it wholeheartedly.
I am very aware of the value of being able to offer support and comfort to someone in need, I know that what you have done for me has brought you some measure of validation and healing… having said that, I hope you will afford me the very same opportunity to not only help you understand your struggle, but also to navigate my way through my own quagmire.
Although we have very different paths to finding comfort and keeping the faith, we most definitely meet where it counts, and that is the undeniable need to be authentic.
I am amazed that someone who seems so strong, who is so quick to offer “comforting words” is in such a lonely place. And yet, it should come as no surprise at all… I am in the same place… always able to offer support and comfort to my friends… and damn good advice too…I might add. Maybe we just need to hear the same things from someone we love and trust in order for it to ring true for us?
I think of you often and yearn to understand your situation… you say you are an open book… here’s one bibliophile that would love nothing more than to turn the page… tell me something, maybe I can help ameliorate your loneliness and your pain. I have much insight where your beliefs are concerned but I know little about your life…“
This was in 2005 and I have lost touch with this beautiful soul whose permission I did not have to re-print this piece of her message to me. She forgave me when she read it, as her identity was never revealed. “C” was and I do hope still is a wonderful writer, at least in my opinion, that it would have been very difficult for me to paraphrase what she wrote.
Understand that I never met this woman, at least face to face. This apparently did not matter – she received me, she heard and responded to what Marc Gafni calls my “Soul Print.” She heard my sins in my words that I never said. Source knew that I needed someone along the lonely and dark path that I was traversing at the time. I also wondered many times back then whether it was synchronicity that we shared the same initials?
What this email and our subsequent “conversation” resulted in, was a turning on of another light for me.
She commented that she knew very little about my life – a comment I initially discounted, telling her that she must not have read all my articles at Comforting Words – the name of my former blog. She contradicted me and said that she had but nowhere in those articles had she read my full story, my sins and my anguish that I since shared with her through our emails.
Speaking Your Sins To Live Your Virtues
That conversation made me realise that I had not lived up to my commitment to be an open book, to offer a sanctuary, a safe place for women, gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendering people and young adults who are existing in difficult circumstances. You see, my blog then and this one now are one part of a wider commitment I made to myself before God. I committed to tell my stories to this community of people, to humanity and the world, with the intention to comfort and transform even one through the core message of love.
There were people, thankfully very few, in my personal space back then who would have rather that I “shut up,” and just live my life, clean up my sins. “Why,” they ask, “do you have to write and talk about these things, especially to strangers?”
Read the quotes again that I have selected for Sacred Words and you will begin to understand why.
All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.
There were other reasons, other motivations for telling my story, my sins and those of others perpetuated against me. I firmly believe and have witnessed that secrets kill the spirit and to be spirit-less is to merely exist, not living to the fullest of one’s capacity and potentials. Worst yet, mere existence renders one incapable of loving wastefully as you are caught in a quagmire of despair, confusion and hate of self and the world.
I tell my story to live fully the life that Source designated me to live and grow through. I tell my story to pass on an ordinary and practical philosophy of personal healing, transformation, freedom and love to the child that God has blessed me with, so that she might live fully and be all that she was meant to be.
What “C” helped me understand was that I had to continue telling my story and with even greater intensity and passion. There is a Negro Spiritual that I learned years ago at a Conference in Toronto, the refrain of which was stuck in my soul: “Something good in my life, do something good in my life I pray.”
Unconsciously, that has been my prayer for all my life. Fervent were my prayers for something good as a child growing up with the sins of an abusive mother, as a survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, as a survivor of domestic violence and rape. I continually hoped for something good in my life as I unrepentantly spoke up for racial and economic equality, as I walked the difficult path of being a a woman who loved another, especially one of African-descent and who one once dared to call herself a Christian.
For The Collective Good
My prayers for something good became even more sincere as I watched my child grow into womanhood. Today, in the year 2016, I no longer pray but KNOW that something good is happening in our collective lives with the premature birth of my granddaughter who is thriving in leaps and bounds.
However, not all is well in our world as sins are intentionally and maliciously perpetuated every day. We see the evidence in the media; we witness poverty and desperation by walking on the other side of the tracks and we hear it through the walls that separate us from our neighbours.
Too many children are being sexually assaulted, too many women are being raped, too many are going to bed hungry, too many LGBT persons are in hiding somewhere in the world and too many are aimless and homeless for us to think it is okay to be quiet and stop calling out sins and telling our stories.
Do join us by subscribing and bookmarking this blog community as we continue to explore this conversation of the seven deadly sins and virtues in our world. As a member of the community, you will receive an email update each day of our posts as well as Weekday Wisdom©, a daily motivation to help you through the day.
Be blessed and continue to be a blessing!