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Saying Sorry: or, remembering that I am not the centre of the universe

February 4, 2013

I once had a rather heated debate with a classmate over whether or not my son (mere months old, at the time) was sinful.  I was arguing the affirmative, much to the horror of my opponent who, I’m sure, was questioning my maternal instincts!  To be fair to me, I was not blaming or condemning my son, or even accusing him of committing any particular sins.  But he was spectacularly selfish, completely unconcerned with my needs for sleep or personal space or a shower or anything else.

Babies, of course, have no choice but to be selfish.  That’s why I didn’t accuse my son of sinning.  And babies are also marvelously loving and trusting.  That’s why I didn’t say he was only sinful.  But that selfishness is, I think, the original sin that we all spend the whole of our lives trying to grow out of.  The infant instinct to demand the universe organize itself around our desires and needs is strong and, in adulthood, shows itself in our tendencies to ignore unpleasant truths, defend our tribes, ignore our creator, and so on.  The difference is adults have a choice.

Having a choice, of course, doesn’t mean we don’t screw up.  Speaking for myself, I am confident that not a day goes by when I don’t do something motivated by selfishness (which, please note, is different from self-care).  There’s the kind of selfishness that our society promotes – using more than my share of the earth’s resources or viewing other people as tools in satisfying my needs and desires.  There’s also the kind of selfishness that interferes with my relationships or my work or my domestic responsibilities. There’s also a perverse kind of selfishness that interferes with no one so much as myself.  Regardless of the kind, however, the only response is to repent – to say sorry God, to myself, to the individual, to humanity and recommit myself to holding God at the centre, organizing all else around the justice and love of God.

It’s a whole life’s learning, this business of repenting and de-centering oneself.  As parents, we have a responsibility to begin the process with our children, teaching them to say they’re sorry and, even more importantly, telling them we’re sorry.  They aren’t the only ones who need the practice.


If you’re in Montreal, join us on Saturday, February 16th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  for a creative, hands-on worship service for the season of Lent – the season for practicing saying sorry.  Contact Rhonda to register: or 514-843-6577


One Comment leave one →
  1. Isaac permalink
    February 5, 2013 11:22 am

    Just watched a documentary on baby morality yesterday on the web site for “The Nature of Things” – . All I have to say is that our bambino has committed some major transgressions in his diaper over the past few days.

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