Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Heirloom Box of Anger

Trinity @ 7 Sermon from May 13, 2007
(yes, I'm incredibly late.)


I have a box in my house
It is beautifully stained and hand carved
It shows figures of immense stature and importance
With their arms crossed, impatience and annoyance
Written across their features

It is a large box, bigger than it seems
About the size of a hope chest
From back in the day
When women had a hope chest in preparation
For a household instead of space in mom’s garage
Or attic, or basement,
For the house put on hold
For college or international adventuring

It might have a must smell inside
There might be moths, but to be honest,
I never check. I don’t care. It’s not that sort
Of chest – though I wouldn’t be surprised if
It did smell – perhaps a cold, gripping smell.
If banshees and vampires had a smell,
I’m sure they would share it with the
Inside – it’s that sort of chest.

Not to say I don’t know what’s inside
In moments of stark honesty I can call them
By name, dangerous though it be for the
Continued existence of the trunk.
And to see – well, it’s practically nothing
Each one just a little bit of fluff
Like what might be in a pillow
Hardly anything, little more than vapor
And so you see
The trunk holds quite a lot, even if these days
I have to sit on it to fasten it
And put the heaviest tomes I have
Webster’s Unabridged, and the Oxford Annotated
To keep it shut, even with the lock

Still, it’s a beautiful trunk – did I mention it’s
A beautiful trunk? Hand carved –
It’s a family heirloom. Well used by
Every generation that I know of
Its’ a magnificent piece, and useful.

It opened one day, despite Webster and Oxford
And seemingly of its own accord,
Though I suspect it had help
And suddenly the room was so thick
It was hard to breathe
I had years – a life time’s worth
Of fluff, decayed and vampire like
Each one screaming its banshee tune

I picked one piece out of the air
Examined it as you might
Some tea leaves at the bottom of a cup
Or a particularly active crystal ball
And I recognized it of course, instantly
It was a little piece of anger
Turned to resentment.

I retreated to the porch to escape for a moment
The thick, old anger that had been released
But I took with me this one, small piece
Of myself I’d never wanted to own in the first place
I thought with hindsight and understanding
I’d gained somewhere along the line
That I could probably let this one go
So I held out my hand and like
A fairytale princess, blew

And like static electricity, it only got so far
Before it clung to my sleeve, unwilling to leave
I shook. I grumbled. I huffed and puffed. I whined.
I got angry – and then, quite suddenly
Had two pieces of Anger!Fluff instead of one

By the end of the afternoon, they were both gone
When I forgave myself for not being able
To fix and heal all of my suffering in an afternoon
The second disappeared.
When I understood that to release anger
Is to change who I’ve always been and
How I’ve always acted
The first disappeared.

When I looked back through a window
To see only white – the fluff that had declared mutiny
My heart quailed at the thought of going back
One-by-one sorting through
Owning up to all the old pain
Pain I’d suffered, pain I’d caused
And yet
And yet
Words echoed
From sages wiser than I

“Looking deeply is one of the most effective ways
To transform our anger, prejudices, and discrimination.”


“True love is only possible with real understanding.”

And since I believed them
Since I’d begun to experience that understanding
Perhaps it was high time, after all
That I go and face my heirloom anger
“What’s the worst that could happen,”
I reasoned,
“I might experience profound joy,
Contentment even, certainly peace,
Once that house is cleaned out.
And maybe even before.”

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