There is a story of a young woman who went to confession because of the guilt she was feeling over her spreading gossip about a co-worker that contributed to the co-worker’s committing suicide. She wanted forgiveness.
The priest told her
he would give her the peace that she sought, but only after she did a special penance. She answered that she would do anything. He told her to get a feather pillow, and on the next windy day, she was to cut the fabric and release all of the feathers into the wind.
She left the confessional and did as she was told. After the last feather was released from the pillow, she went back to see the priest. She told him she let all the feathers from the pillow go as she was told to do, and now she would like her forgiveness. He told her she would have her forgiveness as soon as she recovered all of the feathers and brought him the filled pillow. The young woman sobbed because she knew that it would be impossible to recover any of the feathers let alone all of the feathers.
The priest let her cry for a bit, and then told her that she should think about each bit of gossip that she might consider spreading in the future, each lie that she might consider to pass on to others as a feather that, once released, can never be recovered. As God’s representative, he could see the sincerity in her regret for her part of bringing shame and destruction on another person through her gossipping, and he gave her forgiveness.
It is so easy to join in when the gossip mill comes your way. We all tend to like the realy juicy stuff, and if it is not juicy enough, we may add just a little flavor to make the tale a little more exciting. Yes, most all of us are guilty at times of this dangerous sport. It usually starts with a simple, “Did you hear about….?” By the time everyone adds their two cents worth, the person being gossipped about might as well be taken out to the town square and be publicly stoned.
Some of us feel we don’t get involved with the rumor mills. But aren’t we just as guilty when we hear a bit of gossip that we know is not true and don’t stop it by adding the truth? I am not a preacher, and I have been guilty of adding fuel to the fire at different times in my life, but after hearing the story that opened this post, it does give one pause to stop, think and maybe…just maybe, refrain from joining in the next time some poor innocent is being destroyed. Imagine it is about you that an untruth is being bandied about in your absence.
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