The Seven Deadly Sins?
“Can you name the seven deadly sins?” she asked. I lay on Bonnie’s table, my body full of acupuncture needles.
“I hope there is no wrong answer,” I countered, considering my vulnerable position. “At one time, in my youth, I could have rattled them off easily. Why do you ask?”
She shrugged. I know Bonnie to be a thoughtful, introspective person, so I don’t accept a shrug but put her motivation on hold as none of my business unless she chose to share.
“Pride?” I asked.
“That’s one. What is it in English when you want money, power and other people’s things?”
“I think you mean greed. Is gluttony another?”
“And the sex one—lust,” she added.
‘Anger.” We spit that one out one at the same time.
A couple days later I saw Bonnie again. “Envy and sloth,” I greeted her with a hug and the two missing deadly sins.
Since I have no pretension to or illusions of theological expertise, I decided to explore the seven deadly sins from a practical standpoint, keeping any religious controversy to those better equipped. I determined to look at each deadly sin in relation to myself and to my fellow humans.
I grew up practicing what we called “an examination of conscience”. It is a habit that has served me well and kept me from making a few disastrous decisions along my life’s journey. The disastrous decisions I made on my own, well, I ignored my own advice.
Let’s begin with pride. Immediately I bumped into a wall. What is wrong with a little pride in doing something well, to the best of my ability and admitting to myself, “That is good?”
Thinking is hard work. For a distraction, I wandered to my garden, returned with a dozen key limes, an orange, a stalk of ginger flowers and clarity. While it would be wrong for me to deny that I had done a good job out of a false humility, it would be equally wrong to think I was the “best” just because I’d done well. Yes, I see the dangers of pride, both directions, and must admit I’ve stumbled and fallen and probably will again, being human.
Next? Greed or covetousness. Unfortunately, I’ve never been motivated by money or stuff. My greed must take another definition. I was the Cinderella of my family, so I admit to greed to be noticed, to be liked. I can tell you, this form of greed can be deadly.
Lust? Well, who hasn’t, in times of youthful stupidity? Age is a great tempering tool. Moving on.
Anger—oh, now that’s a deceptive human trait. In my experience, I can generally figure out a way to justify anger and clothe it in self-righteousness. I’ve had to learn how to recognize the stench of “righteous anger” and replace it with awareness that I don’t know the full story. It’s hard to stay angry when I can put myself in your shoes.
Gluttony. I’ve never met a food I didn’t like. That includes many of which I learned that it’s best not to ask the origins. I suspect what makes this sin deadly has less to do with food and more with a desire to consume beyond one’s immediate needs. Does “siege mentality” come under this heading? I bought twenty kilos of strawberries recently and made jam. I gave most of it away but I still have more than I can use myself. Minor example, but if I am scrupulous, I think this is gluttony. Not that 106 flower pots would enter the equation.
Envy. I’ve said it before; I want it all. I want your abilities, talents, youth, beauty and means to travel. I don’t obsess about it. I’m grateful for what I do have, but, really, if only . . .
When I’m being judgmental, critical and back-biting, is that an inside-out form of envy?
Sloth. Guilty again. I have become a fan and practitioner of the concept of “manana”. There is a lot to be said for putting off what can be done today until tomorrow. Sometimes in the interim a better idea is born.
Well, that exercise certainly made me feel immoral, shiftless and self-gratifying. I am guilty, guilty and guilty times seven.
After I finish watering my plants, I’m going to make a key-lime pie. If I want to, I’ll eat the whole thing myself.
HDN: Looking out my back door
September 14, 2017