Frank and Mary,
I'm glad I was led to read your sermon tonight. I hadn't done so in quite a while.
Today the Holy Spirit instructed me to buy something meaningful at a nearby gift shop for friends of my mom's, who had taken me to lunch a few weeks ago. I felt it was right to express my gratitude in this way, even though I was almost tempted not to follow through.
Lo and behold, as I made my purchase, I spoke with the clerk, a lovely, kind woman who I know quite well. I mentioned that the shop's owner STILL hadn't done something very simple that I had asked her to do several months ago and that she had promised to do (put a "2" on the door to indicate the closing time of the store's post office desk on Saturday.
When I said this, my friend the clerk got silent and looked troubled. I felt badly for having been critical of her boss, and told her that she was being very sweet to not respond in kind, with any open criticism.
She then started to cry. She let me know that she had been very unhappy ever since coming to work for that store a number of years ago. But she had covered up her unhappiness successfully, and was now starting to unravel, and didn't feel well physically, and, in fact, didn't want to live any more. She said she wanted to regain her innocence but didn't feel she could or was worthy of being forgiven.
Recently, two other friends from Change.org's AR blog had told me privately that they, too, are seeking to express more of the childlike purity that is inherent in them.
As you may know, the title of my essay in Judy's/Tina's new book, The Missing Peace, is: "Becoming As a Little Child."
So I comforted my clerk friend with the love of God -- in my words, in my tone and looks of tenderness, and in my gentle actions, and as I held her hands in mine I told her that she must forgive herself because this is an act of upholding her own innocence (see Rodale's Synonym Finder). She thanked me humbly and with a look of relief, and composed herself for the next customer.
We parted with my promise to find some spiritual articles on innocence that would give her hope. Sure enough, I found some articles tonight on www.spirituality.com that seem to perfectly meet her need.
Anyway, I appreciate that your sermon reminded me that it was the Holy Spirit that performed that work, and it will continue to take charge in proportion as I listen and obey its "still, small voice."
Susan in Houston