By The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
When Mrs. Emily Stonebridge recently invited me to her house for tea I was delighted. I see her regularly at Sunday Church services but the last time we had a personal visit was around the time she went to England.
It was several years ago after her 48 year marriage ended with the death of her husband that she took her first trip away from Halo, PA. She had never been more than 25 miles away from our bucolic farming village when she decided to go to London.
Emily had a moral dilemma before her trip. She had been raised in another religion which taught her that her body was for the sole purpose of having children. One could not touch one’s own body nor could one engage in body pleasure. She never did have children because her husband had low sperm motility.
Her dilemma was that on her trip she wanted to use a female urinary director called EZ Pee which allowed her to pee standing up. She was afraid of getting germs sitting on foreign toilets. But it meant that by using it she had to touch her body and that was her dilemma. She whispered in a tiny voice “Am I sinning using my FUD?” She called her female urinary director her FUD. I told her that it was not a sin and I emphatically urged her to use it. My ministry is dedicated to inspiring my congregation to overcome the fear of living and the fear of dying. I wanted her to overcome her fear of living.
Yesterday Emily welcomed me into her cozy living room. There were pink roses on chintz everywhere. The bright fabric was on her pillowed sofa and her overstuffed chairs. Her home was immaculate. Cleanliness was her mantra.
I loved her beautifully carved mantel which she told me was carved by Evan Jones a parishioner. I went to it and looked at all the beautiful framed photographs that were displayed on top of it. I picked up an elaborate silver frame and noticed silver polish in its floral crevices. Emily had been cleaning. The old-brownish picture in it was of a woman wearing a maid’s uniform standing in front of a large mansion.
“That’s my grandmother. She worked for a very wealthy family in South Hampton. I think of her often. The family loved her but sometimes the town’s people were cruel.
Grandma told me that on one of her days off she went into the little village to buy food for her dinner. The butcher shop was used by all the large houses to purchase their meat. She saw two thick pork chops which she thought would be lovely for dinner. The butcher asked her if they were for her or for the family that owned the large house. When she told him that they were for her he said he would keep them for one of the wealthy families who were his good customers. This happened to her when she was in her forties but yet she told me about it when she was in her sixties. It hurt her for decades.”
The butcher’s story weighs on me. I thought of Emily’s grandmother and how she remembered a hurtful and insensitive moment for much of her adult life. Now Emily also feels her grandmother’s pain. And me. I don’t doubt the butcher’s right to choose his customers but his act was unkind and cast long-dark shadows over several generations.
Goodness, on the other hand, is a powerful light that erases those dark shadows caused by unkindness. Its brilliance sustains life and is itself a nutrient for the performance of more good deeds. Kindness has a long shelf life.
I began to wonder if the butcher was also hurt by doing what he did. I have learned that a person’s insensitivity becomes dense gravity in them which doesn’t allow altruism, kindness or love to escape. The butcher bears that burden which affects him and the people around him.
The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
Choir Master (part-time)
The First Church of God’s Love