Holiday meditation: the gumdrop chakra

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, November 29, 2015

(First published in 2012; back by request.)

Lie down on the floor —arms and legs out, like a gingerbread man.

Imagine you have two gumdrop eyes and a big, messy, icing mouth, the kind gingerbread “men” have. Now tell yourself you are neither man nor woman, you are a spice cake, clove and cardamom and ginger essence through and through. Feel yourself sort of… floating… that unique feeling of a cookie cooling on a marble slab. Soon you will harden completely, but guess what? Your stiffness is perfectly natural, which is one of the delightful things about being a cookie. Your paralysis is not paralysis at all.

Relax deep into the core of your hardening dough. Like glass, you are really neither liquid nor solid but an in-between state. Feel the deep brown of the molasses coursing through your boneless and fingerless cookie hands, your fat cookie legs and then your crown chakra, which is an invisible gumdrop of pale purple sparkly sugar-light coming from a sugar-star about 93 million miles from here.

Imagine that crown gumdrop glowing now and spinning on, like, a toothpick, receiving celestial light… and that this light is infusing you, filling every melded morsel of butter, sugar, flour and spice in your being. You breathe in: clove. You breathe out: clove. This is universal clove. Feel it deeply.

Now, relax your icing smile until it is a flat loop, like a rubber band lying on the counter. You don’t always have to be happy, you know. You can be neutral. Just because you were born with a smile painted on doesn’t mean you can’t be aware of your true feelings. Like how it feels to be used as a tree decoration and then thrown away. Or how it feels when someone who doesn’t like cardamom takes one bite and spits your leg out into a napkin. Or when people lump you in with fruit cake and snickerdoodles. Not that those things have necessarily happened to you, but certainly to many of your ginger-brethren. But what about the regular, everyday stuff, like just a few hours ago when you were thinking to yourself, “Wow, why do I feel so flat inside — is there something wrong with me?”

No, there is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with not trying so hard. With having some flatter days. It’s not easy being gingerbread, you know: having to be hard while staying somewhat soft inside — not just for others, but for yourself. Do you really want a roller coaster ride, wind pulling dangerously at the edges of your icing mouth?

Now ask yourself this trick question: “How can I smell clove if I don’t have a nose?” Do you feel your mind stretching as you enter the answer-less state? Now visualize your astral body getting up and walking, walking quietly through what appears to be a spearmint forest and toward what appears to be a gingerbread house, the old-fashioned kind, that has a pretzel gate that your astral fingers unlatch, feeling salt crystals come off in your palm. You stop for a moment, admiring the house, its piped-on architectural details. Then your hand-that-is-not-a-hand reaches for the doorknob and you enter. Tiptoeing on feet without toes.

Inside the house, it is dark except for a light in the kitchen. You feel like an outsider looking in, but you sense your quasi-flat body moving forward on its own, with yourself inside it. Is this duality? Are you observer or observed? Keep smelling the universal clove as you enter the cozy room. There are cookies in the oven, cookies just like you — do you see them? They look so much like you: are they you? They also look like paper dolls, laid out in rows, like clones.  All of a sudden, you are scared, really scared that this is “The Twilight Zone” again and that Rod Serling is going to walk through the side door and tell you it’s all a dream, that cookies don’t exist except in the mind of some giant sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice eating universe.

Be with your fear, breathing in, breathing out, flat heart beating in your flat chest. You are completely safe here and you are real. Look at the cookies through the glass oven door and see them with your mind’s gumdrop eye, going back, as if rewinding a tape, coming out of the oven, going back into the cookie cutters, and then finally… back into the bowl, the bowl of primordial dough from whence all gingerbread emerges, where unity of all confections exists, before hardness and softness even have come into being.

Are you happy? Calm? Of course you are, little cookie, because all is one. Now get out there and radiate your sugar-light in this brand new day.


Princess-of-the-world cat meditation

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sit upright on one of those squares you like. The vintage Navajo rug, or the laptop case, or one of the placemats they hate you sitting on, smack in the middle of the dining room table.

There is no one at home now, no one to try to make you do anything you do not want to do. (Not that they ever can. You on the other hand can make them do many things against their weak human will.) Are you on the placemat? Feeling the sweet containment of the square? Feeling the peace and smugness of being in a place you should not be? You are the princess of the world. Breathe in and out through that little pink nose, moving not a single one of your strawberry blonde hairs.

Now pick a point in the distance and stare at it. The birdhouse? That is fine as long as there is no bird activity, because in a moment, as part of this meditation, you will be asked to curb your tail’s twitching. So why set yourself up for failure? Breathe in order and control. Breathe it in for all 500 million domestic felines on this cat-heavy planet. Now breathe out the sound of the hand-held vacuum your humans use to try to get you out from under the beds. Of course you hate that thing. Release the Dustbuster from your consciousness. Release all loud noises for yourself and for all the scaredy-cats of the world.

Yes, splendid cat princess, breathe in power and out subjugation. Take a moment to squint your eyes in pleasure. Remember how pretty your eyes are, the pale olive green flecked with peridot fire? I’ve seen you admire yourself in the mirror as you drink from the faucet they’ve turned on for you. Let your mind’s eye become your actual eyes. Then use these eyes as gemstone crystals, pulling all negative energy and irritation right out through your eye sockets.

Why let go of irritation, you might ask, when it plays such a central part in your life? Why fix it if it ain’t broke? For a moment, precious tabby, consider this: you may not know how much better a cat’s life could be. Cats, too, cling to their pain and codependency. The irritation cycle can be broken. Say it: the irritation cycle can be broken. Say it again once more, not just for the purpose of this meditation, but being truly open to evolution, for yourself and for your species.

Now you are ready, ready to practice pleasure by squinting your eyes. Using a soft and silent meow, feel the breath at the back of your fish-flavored throat.  Squint and breathe: life is good. Right? Deep meow, life is goooooood. Are you letting go now? Who exactly is letting go? You? You are the squinter. Are you also the spirit observing the squint? Yes, my liege. Release all remaining traces of the hand-held vacuum.

Now close your eyes fully in deep and accepting peace. No one is home. There are no birds at the feeder. There are no family members not doing what you would have them do and doing what you would have them not do. There is just you and an empty house and all those deliciously varied napping places that reflect the diurnal movement of the sunny-sun-sun.

Okay, now: from this moment of acceptance and deep relaxation, twitch your tail one last time. Then simply will…it…to…stop…. Remember your own superpower: the unbelievable and unaccountable mind-melding will of a cat. Use it, on yourself this time, to keep the tail still 100 percent. Yes, it’s tricky. Because pretty much everything has the capacity to irritate you.

But as irritation builds, work with the coiled energy at the tip of the tail. This is your Catalini, not that you need understand the Yoga Upanishads to complete this meditation. Breathe in peace up the tail and into the spine and then breathe out irritation. Repeat. Take a moment to be fully present in the Now. Otherwise known as the Meow. Were you successful? You may have just created your first new neural catway.

Maybe you were unable to refrain from twitching? It’s okay. You are a cat, with thousands and thousands of years of neural programming to overcome. Breathe in and rotate an ear. Breathe out. Slowly, quietly, and without judgment stand up and arch your back in a modified Cat-cow, then return to sitting, to a neutral position.

The sun has likely made its way across the table. Feel the sun on your whiskers, then feel it move across the white blaze on your chest. Let your mind melt into the golden light of the sun as you close your eyes again, breath even, tail still. Beautifully done, princess. Now reward yourself with a nice long nap: isn’t that pile of clean laundry just what the doctor ordered?


Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, June 28, 2015

In a blue suit so bright a shard of sky might have fallen to earth and then bounced off the ground into flight, a bluebird, chasing a bicycle down a bikepath, swoops from fence post to fence post as a June day trumpets its particular glory.

Suddenly, the bicycle stops and the rider, a woman in a hat, faces the bird. Though it is just about to take flight, the featured creature, as if its feet were stuck to the post, reconsiders.

MCW: [speaking low] You know, I feel like you’ve been following me. For years, in fact. But. Maybe you do this with every bicycle.

BBird: [in a voice too cute for words, especially English ones] Nope. You’re the only one I follow. [trills]

MCW: I knew it! [dismounts] Since my mother died, right? In 2001? I always felt she’d slipped right into a bird body just to keep her eye on me.

BBird: Jeannine? [micro-sighs] She did watch over you after she died, but only briefly. Remember when that psychic told you she was hanging out in your clothes closet because of how confused she was about her place in the afterlife? Well, she actually was. You wore dresses back then and that sweet perfume: she was in the dresses.

MCW: Wow. [checks bikepath for onlookers] I loved that perfume. Acqua di Parma, Iris. She was in the dresses?

BBird: [ignoring her] And PS: bluebirds don’t live that long. You’ve got humans saying the oldest bluebird lived eight years but it was actually 10 and a half. Another simple little thrush hell bent on fulfilling the mission of monitoring some impossible person’s happiness. Even with all the hospice birds doing their best to lead him out, he just wouldn’t go. Heart kept beating 600 times a minute even with a cool piece of moss laid out on its —

MCW: Wait — bluebird hospice?

BBird: Little blue angels of mercy. Anyway. We all get assignments — missions is what they’re actually called. And I got you — whom your father used to call “the little black cloud” back when you were in high school. Remember?

MCW: A chip off the old big cloud. [putting kickstand down on bike] Nah, I was miserable in high school, it’s true. What kind of mission?

BBird: Are you serious? We’re bluebirds! Who else do you think monitors happiness, day by day, human by human.

MCW: I thought bluebirds brought the happiness.

BBird: No, we’re monitors. Correct taxonomy: “Bluebird of Happiness Monitoring,” but somewhere along the line it got shortened. Not that we’re not a joyful lot: it’s actually built right into our flight pattern and color. Divine genius, you know, building joy right into a bird.

MCW: So, like: you’d be the one to ask about how humans are doing. Right now, for instance, on the planet.

BBird: Where bluebirds reside. Other creatures monitor other places. And of course there are different schools of thought on what makes the happy life. Most bluebirds are Socratics. We believe wisdom, courage, moderation and justice create the capacity for happiness in humans. Personally, I’d throw in joy and the ability to groove to a tune, but otherwise, yeah.

MCW: Wisdom and justice? Yikes. Not sure I want an assessment. Hey, you know those animated bluebirds in the original Cinderella? The ones who —

BBird: Cheer her up and hang ribbons on her dress and such? They’re in Snow White, as well; but in Cinderella, they’re wearing ugly brown hobo shoes and headscarves. Like we’re from the old country or something. Frowsy. But what about them?

MCW: Oh forget it. I mean I’ve got the real thing, right here before my very eyes, speaking to me in an accent of undetermined origin. Sort of Boston meets British. Anyway, after my years of monitoring, what happens?

BBird: Well. [hops to handlebars]. I pass on. But not before having filed the report.

MCW: [horrified] The report? Like a permanent part of the record?

BBird: [laughing hysterically] You should see the look on your face! [shaking wings] Stop, it, Alexis!

MCW: I’m confused. Who is Alexis?

BBird: I’m Alexis. And I shouldn’t be poking fun. Against the rules. Anyway, you’ve got about three years to go on my watch. And I suggest —

MCW: That I take wisdom and justice more seriously?

BBird: Nope. Are you kidding me? I suggest you realize happiness is built into your wings as well. Your shoulder blades, actually. And that you get out there and jiggle them around.  [spreads wings, flies off, swooping] [tweeting over wing] And another thing —

MCW: [shielding eyes from brilliant blue] What???

BBird: Have a bluebird day!

Running with keys

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, August 31, 2014

I am standing on the steps of the Telluride Elementary School watching the six year old in our life step into the same classroom my 21-year-old daughter stepped into a dozen years back. It’s bumper cars on Memory Lane.

Scanning the bare legs and big backpacks and worried expressions, another rubber-bumpered memory car jogs me and I’m back 50 more years, back in my first-grade classroom and remembering a line from Peggy Sue Got Married, a quirky movie from the ‘80s: “You’re just browsing through time, Peggy Sue.” Browsing through time.

It’s 1964, and we’re in Europe on dad’s last tour of duty. The rest of the siblings are in American high school and I’ve already had a year in French kindergarten, which, in their system, is the final year of a three-year preschool program.

Based on kindergarten, I’m not too concerned about first grade. I’ve learned to write in cursive, to memorize poems with words so big I don’t know or care what they mean, and to read. I’ve deeply loved and memorialized recess in the dusty playground, catching bees in our handkerchiefs and letting them go, chasing pals around and collecting piles of fine sand made from slapping the earth hard. Piles of grade-A dirt make us happy. I love kindergarten.

Turns out, things are different in first grade.

The elementary school in the little village of Olivet, near Orleans (70 miles from Paris, where the American military are stationed), has an enormous iron gate that is closed and opened several times a day, a gate painted stone-and-sky gray and serviced with a giant key. It is a school full of girls, as the schools have not yet integrated, and my seat in the classroom is toward the back. I am still known as the “little American with the braids.” We are required to wear a loose button-down smock made of nylon, a cover-up for clothing that might betray the more and the less fortunate of us.

At six, we learn to write with dip pens. The inkwells, in the front right corner of the desk, are filled at the beginning of the day, and we spend a good portion of our time following forms, practicing, blotting, dipping again and learning vocabulary. The wretch behind me likes to take the end of my right braid silently in hand and dip it into her well of purple ink. She does it often. Danielle: She is one of the class troublemakers, a girl whose unhappy face I study as she stands in the front of the room, doing penance, needing — and hating her need — for attention.

At lunchtime, for some mysterious and petrifying reason, I have been given the job — as we file out to walk two-by-two to the lunchroom building a quarter of a mile away — of locking the gate with the giant key and running the key to my teacher whose apartment is up a flight of stairs close by. Every day, I worry that Mme Lafouri will not answer the door in time and I will be left behind. She is stern and I fear her. Every day I survive and catch up with the group, but every next day holds the same worry and trauma. My mother says it’s all silliness, which makes me feel the magnitude of the problem even more, makes me feel that I am utterly alone in it.

In the afternoons, we write out answers to math questions fired at us from the front of the classroom on handheld chalkboards. I’m good at it, right up until the day I am asked to come to the front of the class to write on the big chalkboard, at which point I just cannot come up with the sum. In a searing moment of surprise, I feel the notorious bamboo switch on the back of my own calves, something clearly/confusingly meant to both punish and prod. After a moment of humiliation, I somehow come up with that answer, get a nod, and find my seat, where Danielle is waiting, silently, to pick up the end of my braid.

As I think of my little-people problems — sometimes microcosms of my big-person problems — a fresh first-grader is deposited at a friendly table in a sunny room at a sweet school without any gate at all. The temptation is to compare and contrast the old ways with the new, to look at it all and say, “This will be easier, for sure.” But the fact is, small (and medium and large) people will never cease to have secret challenges; and the best thing to do for them (us) — always — is to listen, acknowledge and validate. It lightens the baggage of life ever so much.


To bacon the dog: Verbing 101

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, August 17, 2014

“Come up into mountain pose, slowly rolling up one vertebra at a time, and then cactus your arms out as you go into mini-backbend.” Front range outdoor yoga instructor, August 10

Pursuant to a 10 a.m. class on the grass, I find cannot stop cactusing my arms, it feels so good.

This particular move semi-skies me upward and then bananas me into more peace and tranquility. Which is the whole point, n’est-ce pas?

I yoga as frequently as I can, whether indooring or outdooring, though never frequently enough. During every session I water frequently, as has been hurricaned at us by the instructors over and over again. Can’t forget to water! True that: because we prune if left unwatered — we parch. Also we are asked to balloon in and out with our powerhouses or cores or lower dan tians, and then to outbreath the toxins.

I’m Prousting on that class now, I know. Because when we opened, after the initial intentioning, the brilliant, blue sky umbrella’d above us, clouds breaking apart, I had a sort of mini-breakthrough, maybe with the mini-backbend, I don’t know. After the first series — so heavily forested with cactusing — I cleared. I mean, really cleared. I third-eyed the instructor and hearted her, for sure. I think a lot of other people did, too. They must have.

A couple of dogs in the audience of about 50 or 60 banana’d as well. Curiouser and curiouser! They did not so much downward-dog as shivasana. The instructor, microphoning on, even though you could see she was canine-charmed, paused and momented. “Continuing to intention, we series two.“ We all telephone-poled up, then mountained, hungry-baby-birding the next series.

Yeah, well, I actually forgot what my intention was. Then all of a sudden it super-balled back into consciousness. Boing, amethysting at my crown chakra, it was back. So simple, how could I forget it? “Peace the space you’re in,” was my active intention. Peace her, peace him, peace the air. I peaced everything a couple times with some cinnamon flavored breaths at my disposal. (I had Altoided before class.)

Anyway, then one dog labradoodled in the grass, eyes practically loopdalooped back in her (his?) head. She (he?) got prana’d, for sure. Some days are like this, both for dogs and people. They metaphor into something really big: they lake, with flat, taught surfaces and deep pools below. Then they droplet, so that every piece holograms, reflecting grandeur and beautiful complexity.

While series two-ing, we cactus [If it’s more than one of us, do we cacti?] our arms up again, and I slyly lighthouse the crowd of about 50 or 60. Everyone is third-eyeing the instructor, attentioning super well. We are one, bodies tidepooling.

A vendor ice-cream-trucks by, music-boxing as it goes. That labradoodling dog (which happens to be a blue heeler, actually), cheetahs off after the truck and its owner yells, “Camilla Parker!” (which smiley-faces me). Camilla, pause-buttoning briefly, eventually can’t help herself and lightning bolts to the truck at which point the driver, not missing a beat, bacons the dog! Brilliant!

I sticky-note the moment, felt-tipping the word “delight” in a scrawl. I front-lobe it, and then return to peacing this, that, and the other thing because that’s my intention and I plan to use it. Because, listen, peacing things magic wands them, for sure.

Camilla Parker, back on the grass—- and baconed and banana’d into bliss — shivasanas right near the instructor who, having lotused us, lowers herself to the ground and homing-pigeons the dog’s head with her hand. Makes me want to homing-pigeon that cute Camilla and bacon her myself. Makes me want to bacon everyone. I harp yoga. I harp feeling uplifted.

Lotusing as best we can, then shivasana’ing, we eventually finish-line the class and trough up to our water bottles, as per the rules.

Not just me but some of the others, as well, mountain pose up and cactus our arms as if it cannot be helped. Mini backbending, we swallow a bit of the blue sky. Perfection. A tinkling bell ensues with ice-cream-truck man vendoring his way back to the park where at least half a dozen people myself included apostle him. We are his followers at the moment, his fans.

Lazily creamsicling my way back to my mat and bottle and towel, I sticky-note another delicious moment in time, message-boarding my brain, because it’s what I do. “Wonderful!” I Crayon in the word, this time, in blue-green. And as an added element, I saguaro in a sketch.

This is just simply to remind myself to cactus my arms whenever I’m Darthed or down for whatever reason. Because I find it works.


Man cave meditation

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, July 20, 2014

For this one, sire, stay in bed.No one ever need know you are traveling within if you simply do not move before getting up. In fact, pretend you are still asleep.

Breathe in, through the nose. You can feel the slow intake of air through your nose hairs. Nice and easy. Breathe out slowly, emptying your lungs. Your lungs? They are carwash sponges: wring them out until they are light as a feather, so Nerf-y, they practically float.

This is what is known as a guided meditation, and all you really have to do is follow along. If you get tripped up, just go back to carwash-sponge breathing, wringing out and filling up. Wringing out, filling up.

If it helps, imagine that you are washing a black Jaguar F Type Project 7 you just paid cash for and haven’t even driven yet. Wring out the sponge, then fill up your lungs. Remember the Mona Lisa’s smile? Put that on your face. It’s a unisex expression, in case you knew not, and you are a mystery man, relaxed, healthy, and effortlessly achieving without being driven. Your secret? You know how to relax. How to smile enigmatically at life. It’s all so easy, isn’t it? That’s your mantra, which is a phrase you repeat until you believe it to be true. It’s. All. So. Flippin’. Easy.

Deep breath in as you feel your lungs and chest stretch and expand. So good, right? Hold the breath in for four and exhale through the mouth without making a sound. All they see is a blob still in bed, but you know better. You know you are meditating, taking care of the delicate filament of life that lives within your strapping terrestrial existence.

Now, see yourself getting ready to walk down a flight of stairs, going deeper and deeper into calm, a kind of post-long-hot-shower calm. There is no judgment or competition here. Mysterious smile followed by two carwash-sponge breaths. Even calmer.

You are wearing your favorite sweats, by the way. Feeling the soft terry of your thousand-year-old hoodie against your head, breathe in. Yes, the hood is up. Feel the soft, worn-in leather of your imaginary flip-flops as you descend the staircase of your inner man cave. With each step down, you are deeper into your personal man mystery, the image of the Jag finding purchase in your third eye, located right between your eyebrows. Like a hood ornament!

Breathe out, and take a few more steps down to the bottom, where a dark but cozy mahogany-paneled room awaits you. There is an armchair in the room, one made of oiled and worn leather, a chair so inviting it begs the question of whether man was really meant to stand at all. You are one with the cavescape. You are one. But who, in fact, are you? It doesn’t matter. Really? Yes, really.

Do the Army breath — deep breath in through the nose, then hoooaaaahhhh, out. And repeat, deep breath in, then hoooaaahhh car-wash-sponge out, focusing on the third-eye jaguar, the leaping jaguar stilled for a perpetual moment in the middle of your face. Are you that jaguar?

No, you are the guy in the Maxell commercial, the guy sitting in the chair with the windy music blowing at you while nothing else exists except you and the music of life. Only there is no music and no wind. Sitting in the chair now, in your soft sweats, you are riveted by a screen in front of you, a $9,000 LG 55-inch curved HD screen, the one everyone wants. There is a remote in your hand and you finger it idly. You could probably use it blindfolded. But, for now, it is just residing in your hand as you stare at the blank screen. It is on, but silent, and the most beautiful night-sky black.

As you sit, quietly and peacefully staring, all you think of is your breath. Not your morning breath, of course, but the capital-B breath of energy. You continue doing the carwash-sponge respiration cycle for several minutes until you feel utterly refreshed. Then, at that place of utter mancalm, you take one last breath in, a long, slow breath with all the gratitude you can muster for your life. You note a faint smell in the air now, a faint smell of … bacon. Heavenly.

And returning to Earth — 5 bacon, 4 bacon, 3 bacon, 2 bacon, 1 —  you feel the weight of your body in the trough of your bed. Peace be with you, brogi. You’ve earned your coffee.

Sins for dog lovers

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, February 17, 2013

MCW: [crossing herself on hard bench of confessional] Bless me father for I have … sinned. It’s been—
Priest on duty: [interrupting] Not that long since you were here, my child [sighs]. What now?
MCW: [blushing] Gee. Is that how you address sinners these days, with “What now?” Is there an eye roll to go with that?

POD: [contrite] Sorry. Low blood sugar. I’ve been in here over three hours without a break, and the last woman got herself all — never mind. Plus, the pope quit and I feel untethered and … discombobulated. My apologies.
MCW: I know, right? That was some crazy sh— I mean, a lightning bolt on the basilica spire?  Anyway, I’m back. I need some fine-tuning. These minor bobbles like ego, and selfishness, thinking I’m right all the time. Oh and envy. And bad thoughts. That’s this morning, in a nutshell —
POD: Bad thoughts is a vast category, my child, like a dark universe. Not minor, not bobbles. Everything pretty much starts with monkey mind.
MCW: [pauses] Am I in the Catholic confessional or did I go through the looking glass? Are we cross-pollinating with Eastern traditions these days?
POD: We have monks, too, here in the RCC, and traditions of reflection and mysticism. Plus monkeys can be dangerous creatures. Evil, unpredictable ones, in need of whipping — is that Catholic enough?
MCW: Well, yes, I mean no, not really … I mean—
POD: Speaking of categories, I do have some checklists here, if you find them helpful.
MCW: [laughs] That’s funny. [pauses] You’re kidding. Right?
POD: I don’t kid much in the confessional. Usually backfires. Lots of people arrive fully unaware of the volume of sins they have committed. It can be helpful to have a framework.
MCW: So … the checklists are for…
POD: All flavors, shapes, and sizes of penitents. I have Seven Deadly, Sins from Romans, Sins of our Fathers, Sins Against Humanity, Sins for Codependent Lovers, Sins for Dog People, Sins for Obsessive Consumers. The Eight Sins of Evagrius Ponticus, which include weariness, a particular favorite of mine. Seven Modern Mortal Sins of the Vatican in 2008 — which includes polluting. Seven Deadly Sins of Mahatma Ghandi, which includes pleasure without conscience, which is absolutely unbridled I-M-H-O. Sins for Dummies — which is a good one a psychologist friend put together for me. And I also have a link to a comprehensive list of more than 500 sinful things in the Bible including whispering and wickedness.
MCW: [scratching head] A link?
POD: We just approved Smartphone and iPad use in the confessional. If someone can use the flashlight app to read the checklists, why shouldn’t they be able to go to The Big Sin List, as I call it, right then and there? It would be hypocritical. And that would be a sin.
MCW: Wow. Electronics? That seems … just wrong. What if you don’t want to know all your sins? What if you just want to stop feeling bad and get some advice, from behind a screen, in the cool, damp, dark of the neighborhood church confessional? What if I just want old-fashioned absolution?
POD: [belly laughs]
MCW: I’m serious!
POD: In order to stop feeling bad, you have to stop having negative thoughts, which turn into negative words and negative actions. It’s not just a simple matter of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust anymore. Do you know foolishness is one of the sins from Romans 31?
MCW: Speaking of broad categories. I don’t even want to go there. Please. Too much information! God, I’m overwhelmed by all this. A weary, foolish, polluting, gourmand of a whispering woman. And that’s not even what I wanted to talk about.
POD: My child: there are believers in the pews. Can we not speak with less urgency and haste?
MCW: [blushing deeply, then whispering] Look. I’m whispering, which is a sin, but I’m doing it anyway. I came here with the simple notion that everyday negativity is a sin and I wanted to pick your brain about it.
POD: Pick away.
MCW: But now. Well, I don’t want checklists and I certainly don’t want the Socratic method in the confessional. I’m overwhelmed…
POD: That’s on my list of Sins for—
MCW: I don’t want to know! Just. Give me one thing to remember. Just give me one piece of advice for people like me who—
POD: Who what?
MCW: You know what, forget that. Just give me the Sins for Dummies checklist. [instant sound of paper rustling] [folded sheet is slipped through screen hinge] I’m taking this home, and I’ll be back, without my smartphone, for another go.
POD: Works for me. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti amen…