Thursday, March 18, 2010

Decluttering the Wardrobe

contributed by Lance

If one of the things Lent is about is decluttering the distractions, then I need decluttered speech. I need words and more specifically, ways with words that are simplified. This is because I am a liar.

These days, the lying doesn’t happen in the point blank ways it did, say when I was a teenager.

Mom: Lance, I was doing laundry and found these in your pocket [lifts up a packet of Players cigarettes].

Lance: [pause] Oh geeez [said with exaggerated exasperation] Phil!!! He’s always getting me to hold on to his smokes. It’s so annoying because he forgets to get them back from me right?... and then…this happens. Sorry mom, I’ll make sure he quits doing this.


Dad: [at the kitchen table during Sunday lunch] Why are your fingers so orange?

Lance: Orange? [looking at hands] Oh, I was just eating cheetos.

Dad: [unimpressed stare]

Lance: A lot of them.

Now, the lying is different. I’ve grown up. I’m more refined (debatable) and so is my lying. It’s not so much about telling bold face lies as it is telling partial truths, giving edited accounts of an event. Sometimes it’s about leaving out the shadowy parts in order to put myself in the best light. Sometimes it’s about being intentionally vague when exactness needed. Sometimes it’s embellishing minor details until they become the main points. There are just so many ways of using language to conceal and dodge the truth. And I’m fairly good at most of them.


If you don't know the kind of person I am

and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—should be clear:
the darkness around us is deep.

—William Stafford

“…we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church…Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” [Ephesians 4:14-15; 21-25 NLT]

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