I realized that there were more than a few things I just don't understand. Big things, little things, things that confused me. This is good to articulate, and helps me to understand why it is that I had not been able to settle on a focus or point from which to discuss my ideas. Yes, it's confusion, and that is the point, the focus. Confusion. Contradictions. Cognitive dissonance. Leaps of faith as springboards to the confusion, contradictions and cognitive dissonance.
When I was young, I would head outside and wander through fields and woods and climb up the mountain, following the power lines. That swath cut through the forest emphasized the terrain almost like the rumpled blanket on my bed with its peaks and crevasses. I would feel the breeze on my cheeks, cooling the sun's warmth, feel my hair blow back as though running while feeling the stones and dirt under my bare feet as I stood still. Even at a young age, I felt life, all of it alive all around me. This life was in harsh, stark contrast to the priest in Sunday masses insisting that we are, all of us, born sinners. Was it a sin to feel life? That was the only thing I knew of that no one else had ever mentioned, so I deduced no one else had ever done. I had no way of knowing if it was right or wrong, so I never mentioned it. A kid with a mother like mine learns early on not to do wrong or risk another whipping, so I kept it to myself, just in case it was wrong. Yes, for awhile, I wondered if it was a sin to feel, to become one with life.
Looking down from the organ loft onto the tops of the heads of my fellow parishioners, I could see them nod their heads in agreement. They agreed with the priest that they were sinners, and I could imagine all the horrible things they all had done. They must've all hit people, yelled at them, angered about one slight or another, cheated or stole, never smiled, never hugged their children, ate meat on Friday, or, heaven forbid, they had sex without being married. Those were the things I knew were wrong, some to be recategorized later in life. To me, it was a sin that all the women there felt that going to church on Sunday was an excuse to wear all of the perfume they owned. There is no doubt that it is wrong when you do something that causes someone else misery, and that perfume made me deathly sick every Sunday.
That was my thinking back then, and it hasn't changed much now. It is wrong when you do something that causes someone else pain and misery. It is your choice, your responsibility, your thinking that is behind that wrongdoing. There is no one and nothing else behind your wrongdoing but you.
Ah, you say, "but the Devil made me do it." Think about that too. The first and about the only place I ever heard any mention of a Devil was in church! That's the same place I was told I was born a sinner. Countless Sundays watching those heads nod away, and not a bit of it had a ring of truth to it. Isn't it wrong to lie? You all may be sinners, but I'm not! I can feel life! I can feel my heart about to explode with the joy of watching a bird fly against the wind. I can touch the cheek of a dog and see the comfort reflected in its eyes that is beautiful. I can look at a newborn baby and know without doubt, know deep in my heart that there is no wrong, no sin there!
The exposed skin under the broken thumbnail is an allegory for the head in the sand, hidden from life, sheltered from truth. Slow the thinking down long enough to grab on and follow it through. Find the grave contradictions and refuse to take those huge, unfathomable leaps of faith. The truth is never confusing.
Sorry, Padre. I am no sinner. I love life, and it is no sin. It is a sin that so many people believe that they are sinners.