Back in the mid-1990s I wrote a book on sin. Each of us knows sin experientially, of course, but few of us know it comprehensively even in that way because we are parochial even in our sinning. So I had to study sin. For a couple of years I read about sin in the Bible. I read commentaries on the Bible, theological encyclopedia articles and books on virtue and vice.
I had just arrived in a new parish when a member told me how, in a
horrific flash of fewer than two years, her husband died, her son was
incarcerated for drug possession and her daughter committed suicide. The
woman was disconsolate, drowning in grief and despairing of her empty,
painful future. That's when her pastor dared to say something so bold,
so outrageous, that she never forgot it.
It is autumn again, and life is speeding up. Students are back in school, classes are beginning and the fall programs of churches are in full swing. Wouldn’t it be good to find a spiritual discipline for these days that would remind us of the pace and the blessings of summer?
At a recent wedding, I watched a mother try to lure her little boy onto the dance floor. She invited him to dance to a slow song, and then tried again when a fast song was played. She winked and cajoled; she pretended to be sad dancing alone; she pretended she was dancing while he stood on her feet. But he wouldn’t dance.