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Sister Alma Rose Q & A

Dear Sister Alma Rose — Are you Born Again? —Wondering in Walla Walla

Forever Innocent

Forever Innocent

Dear Wondering — Oh, my, yes. As often as possible. Sister Alma Rose is new every morning — every minute, when she thinks about it….

Every time she thanks God for what is instead of fretting about what ain’t….

Every time she plunges into the still, healing waters of meditation and finds the unblemished soul….

Every time she packs her guilt and regrets, her worries and fears, into a prayer, and the angels scoop down and pick it right up and carry it away like a leaf on the wind….

Every time she opens her heart….

And here’s the astonishing thing: It’s never too late. There’s never a wrong time to reclaim y’all’s innocence.

Cleaning Baked-On Meanness

God, please let me not forget you when I’m feeling small or slighted or inept; and help me find delight in great achievements, mine or otherwise, and if a person I despise is recognized for some accomplishment I find astonishing (because, perhaps, I deem the credit to be mine), chastise me first for the despising, second for the pride, and then let my resentment burn until I plead for mercy, maybe longer. (If it doesn’t kill me it will make me stronger.)

The self-absorbed soon pay for failing to appreciate another’s greatness. They inflate their own importance and grow corpulent, so bloated that their eyes no longer open. Then they float away, and no one notices, or if they do, forget to mourn.

So move whatever bars the door aside and scrub my spirit clean of malice, jealousy, and pettiness. It’s an extraordinary mess you’ll find. An unsuspecting guest, just popping by, would stop and stare, and suddenly remember a forgotten obligation. “Look at the time,” he’d say. “I’ve got to fly,” and match the statement with the deed.

You’ll need more than a feather duster here to penetrate the grime; a vat of lye, perhaps, or hydrochloric acid must be liberally applied to baked-on meanness such as mine, accumulated since approximately June of Nineteen-Fifty-Five, when Jimmy Hoffa was alive — in fact, for all I know, he’s living still, stuffed in a sack beneath my bed, tied up and gagged and old and ill — worse yet, tied up beneath my bed, and dead.

I am reminded of an oven I attacked one Saturday, so black and thick with grease that you could only bake one cookie at a time. I scraped and chiseled, used a brush with metal bristles, left ammonia vaporizing in the oven overnight, and after many days of sweat and strife, I thought I saw a shiny spot — those tiny white-on-granite-colored dots and speckles, seeming to be taken by surprise, closing their little granite eyes against the unaccustomed light.

And thus, I fear most mightily, you’ll find my spirit, crushed beneath the weight of wickedness accumulated over decades, unregretted, unconfessed when it was fresh and could have just been sponged away. For I’ve been greedy when I needed nothing, feasted without gratitude and, still unsatisfied, I asked for more, and more besides, instead of being glad to be alive instead of lying underneath somebody’s bed, five decades dead.

May 2006

“Cleaning Baked-On Meanness,” from Unfamiliar Territory, © 2006, Mary Campbell and Zero Gravity

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