I’m a preacher’s daughter. A PK. I was raised in a fishbowl with guidelines on how to behave, including a sense of right and wrong.
I was not allowed to swear; I was not even allowed to say gee, gosh, or heck as they were presented as shortened versions of Jesus, God, and heaven.
I was not allowed to lie; I did once that I recall, and I had to sit with my dad in his study until I repented and promised I would never lie again.
I was not allowed to say anything that would offend others; my mother’s words still live in my head: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
That’s why the barrage of news reports this past week about our president’s lies and put-downs have gotten to me. I keep hoping I didn’t hear right. I want to wish him well, but, political party and policies aside, I can’t get past his blatant lies and put-downs.
That’s why I was surprised, and relieved, to hear even Shep Smith on Fox News say, “It’s crazy, what we’re watching every day. It’s absolutely crazy.” For my international readers, Fox News is known to be conservative, Republican, generally supportive of the president, and one of the few news outlets, if not the only one, our president hasn’t disparaged. You may have noticed that anyone who disagrees with him gets a disparaging remark.
And that’s why this week I remembered Ivory Soap. If you are older, like me, you may remember this threat: “If you say that again, you’ll get your mouth washed out with soap.” My folks never said it; they didn’t have to. I just knew it may happen, because I’d heard the threat elsewhere. And I knew the soap would be Ivory. I knew this so clearly that I did a dry run; I peeled off the waxy white and blue wrapper (as I recall it) and bit into the pearly white bar that tasted like, yes, soap.
So, I’m wondering today: What if we, our president included, carried a miniature bar of Ivory Soap in our pockets, and when we’re tempted to lie or lob a put-down at someone, we’d cradle our bars instead?
Could that make us a cleaner world? Cleaner thoughts, cleaner words, cleaner actions?
As I stood in church this morning to sing the gathering song, lies and put-downs thumping in my mind, I was comforted by these words from Gather Us In:
Here in this place, the new light is streaming, now is the darkness vanished away.
See, in this space, our fears and our dreamings, brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in – the lost and forsaken, gather us in – the blind and the lame.
Call to us now, and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.
Whatever may be bothering you today, I hope these words will be of comfort to you too.