Have You Heard?

Monday, October 27, 2014 – Proper 25, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 41, 52 (morning) // 44 (evening)

Ecclesiasticus 19:4-17

Revelation 11:1-14

Luke 11:14-26

Yesterday I drove past a political billboard that I’m dying to talk about. The slogan on it pretty much sums up everything that I think is wrong with America. I also heard this week about a truly hateful campaign in a nearby community where I’d dared to hope for better things.

But today’s first reading asks me to keep a lid on these topics. The passage asks, “Have you heard something? Let it die with you. Be brave, it will not make you burst!” In the Scriptures, this advice has more to do with repeating conversations or passing along rumors, but political gossip is more dangerous to me. When something makes me really angry, I think I’ll explode trying to hold it in.

If I let it out, though, I know that I’ll only give free publicity or extra fuel to some very real forces of cruelty and destruction.

At least the analogy in today’s reading gave me a laugh to diffuse some of my anger: “Having heard something, the fool suffers birth pangs like a woman in labor with a child.” (I laughed because I highly doubt that the writer has experienced childbirth. I get the point, but I don’t find labor and trying to contain gossip very similar at all!)

The Psalms today have some more apt comparisons. One Psalm calls out the one whose “tongue is like a sharpened razor.” The other Psalm warns us about those whose “heart collects false rumors” that they then run out and spread. How often are our hearts and minds the receptacles of information, gossip, or anger that we use as whetstones to sharpen our witty tongues?

Fortunately for my line of work, I’m a steel trap . . . or more like a black hole . . . when it comes to personal information. I have no desire to tell or sometimes even to remember the deeply sensitive aspects and stories of people’s lives (unless someone wants me to “hold” something personal for them).

When it comes to political gossip and negativity, though, I must work hard to check my tongue. In fact, if you ask me about the billboard slogan in person, I might not be able to contain myself! But honestly, I’d better sign off now. I have to trust that I’m not going to explode if I treat these matters of political intrigue to the silence and oblivion they deserve.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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