Let him among you who is without sin…


brokenstained01.jpg picture by pemerytx



James left the church a convicted man.  The preacher’s sermon had ripped into his holier-than-thou heart and exposed the stench of his arrogance.  At the time, he’d looked around, certain that everyone in the sanctuary had seen the blackness spewing out of him, but anyone he made eye contact with only smiled warmly at him.  The whole place had been filled with love and acceptance and he’d been shaken to the core, moved to change his life. 


He took a route home from the church that would take him by the mall.  He pulled into the parking lot, found a curb spot for his Cadi, and headed into the mall, direct to the Christian store.  He went straight to the pimply-faced, on-fire-for-God lad behind the counter and asked where he might find these certain stones he’d heard about that had inspiring words printed on them.   “You know…like Love, Faith, Hope, Humility…I’m especially interested in Humility,” James said.


“Oh me, too!” the pimply lad exclaimed, raising his hands to the ceiling.  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you!” he shouted.  Then he looked back at James and said enthusiastically, “Yes, sir!  Follow me, right over here!”


James followed.  He fidgeted while the pimply lad poured over the rack of boxes and packages of inspiration stones while humming, “Our God is an Awesome God,” and he wondered what could be taking so all-fired long.


Just as James was about to ask what the problem was, the lad shouted victoriously, “Aha!” as he whipped around with a bag of stones in each hand.  “Out of all the brands on this whole rack, only two included stones that have ‘Humility’ on them.” The lad chuckled and said, “I guess that says something, eh?”


James just raised an eyebrow.


The lad cleared his throat, “Alrighty then!  Two choices here, sir, the earthen colors or the neon.”


James chuckled at the irony of a neon Humility stone.  He patted the lad on the shoulder and said, “I’ll take the earthen ones.”


He paid for the stones and headed home with the Awesome God tune stuck in his head.  It’d been a long time since he’d felt this moved.  The reviving and building up of chapter 11 corporations that he’d dedicated his life to required a combination of high-end intelligence, determination, and brutality.  He’d become a blood-thirsty junkyard dog, a pitiful failure in relationships, and this morning at church, that view of himself had hit him full on.  Now, he was looking forward to building a better James.


He ripped open the package of stones and dumped them on top of his dresser.  He sorted through them until he found the Humility stone.  The instant he picked it up he felt heat from it.  It warmed his fingertips and became hot.  Just as he was about to drop it, he felt the heat leave his fingertips, spread up his arms and into his chest, filling his heart with the glow of peace, joy, and hope.  He felt instantly changed, euphoric, holy, and oh so grateful that God had blessed him in this way.


The next day, James awoke, his head a mix-master of business ideas as usual.  Then he remembered church and the sermon and the Humility stone and that he was a changed man.  Funny, he didn’t feel as enthusiastic about that as he had yesterday.  Still, when he went to his dresser to get his wallet and change, he grabbed the Humility stone.  He looked at it a moment.  Nothing.  He shrugged.  Then he felt it, the heat, the euphoria, the holiness, the gratefulness to have found this amazing stone.  He smiled and stashed it in his pocket.


From that moment on, the Humility stone got radically put to the test daily:  on the way to the office, fighting the traffic, fighting the expletives; at his building, dealing with the morons in the elevator, dealing with stifling his derogatory comments; passing the obnoxious admin on the way into his office, passing up the urge to belittle her; attending ridiculous meetings, attending to and checking his anger.  Each time he felt the old mechanisms of arrogance beginning to churn, he reached in his pocket and fingered the smooth, warm stone.  Peace would always pervade.  Gratefulness would always follow.


Months went by like this.  He’d wake up busy-headed, remember he was a changed man, hit the shower, dress, grab the Humility stone off his dresser and head to the office.  The people he worked with and dealt with on a daily basis had noticed the positive change in him and some had even dared to mention it.  It was good to get that confirmation, but the biggest boon was less resistance in getting what he wanted.  He understood now more than ever that people just want to be recognized and heard, and if he just shot a couple of genuine looks and a few agreeable, acknowledging words in their direction, he could leave the steam-roller at home.


The only thing that gave him cause for concern at this point was the upcoming annual meeting of stockholders.  That would be the biggest test of his newfound humility.  Ridiculous agenda items were scheduled, ones he didn’t believe in, and one proposal, in particular that would require his company to reimburse stockholders of expenses incurred in certain situations.  On top of that offense, the Chairman was a real asshole.  But the Humility stone hadn’t failed him thus far, so why should it then?  He put his hand in his pocket and got a fix.  Thank God!


On the day of the stockholders’ meeting he awoke as usual and, he was pleased to note, with no sign of agitation or even concern regarding the meeting.  He hit the ground running, went through the drill, grabbed the stone, and out the door he went.  He showed up at the 9am affair confident, in good spirits, and of course, humble.  All was going swimmingly.  He’d successfully checked the barrage of affronts he’d had good cause and plenty of opportunity to unleash, until the Chairman singled him out and cornered him on a proxy issue. 


As proud of himself as he was to not have needed the stone prior to this moment, James knew one more split second without it could blow everything he’d worked for in this meeting and potentially cost his company funds that would trickle down to affecting execute perks.  He slid his hand into his pocket for the Humility stone.  Something was wrong!  The stone felt different. 


The Chairman was growing impatient and queried him  for an answer a second time.  He pulled the stone out of his pocket and looked at it.  Gratitude.  Shit!  He’d grabbed the wrong damned stone.  “Well, bloody hell!” he thought.  He got cold, felt the power of humility drain out of him and he let the Chairman have it with both barrels.




stones01.jpg picture by pemerytx





1.  The idea for this piece came from listening to Diane Rehm interview Maya Angelou regarding her newest book, “Letter to My Daughter.”  When asked by Rehm what the most important life lesson she’s learned is, Angelou says, “I believe the most important lesson any human being, I, can learn and practice, is an attitude of gratitude.  Gratitude.  To never be modest.  Modesty is a learned affectation.  It’s stuck on like decals.  And as soon as life slams the modest person against the wall, that modesty will drop off and you’ll see the real person come out.”


2.  I got carried away with Awesome God youtube offerings, so the wide spectrum is listed below solely for posterity:


Live traditional version of the chorus by the one and only Michael W. Smith



Home recording, violin and piano – priceless http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRqWccM9J-Q


Hip hop going on to Texas boy, Kirk Franklin’s, version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb32yHS8MBQ&feature=related


The good old Rich Mullins full version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrLH6kImNd8





Broken stained glass window from http://k41.pbase.com/u40/fredarmitage/large/39366086.brokenstainedglass.jpg


Inspiration stones from http://www.thevelvetbow.com/zen-cart/images/The%20Velve%20Bowt009_edited_440.jpg



Image hosting by Photobucket


Click here for more on prompt “#138 – Grateful” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

12 responses to “Let him among you who is without sin…

  1. dolce far niente, DOM: it’s not the meaning, but the sound: it sounds as sweet as this lovely praline. Lovely sweet stickinesses seeded all through. I love the “remembered…that he was a changed man.” Something like change always needs a post-it note, don’t it? “Gratefulness would always follow…” Ha! That was one fine blackberry seed to keep chewing on, right up till the end.

    Your man Kirk could turn Madalyn Murray O’Hare to Jesus, if he could get her on the dance floor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUSIFOXA6pM

    Grateful, chica, most grateful. The sun is much brighter now…

  2. Hello Miss A,
    His thought to get a stone at the mall when his arrogance is laid bare for all to see is priceless! I’m just wondering where can I get one of thoses stones? I do promosie to watch over it and keep it safe and close to me! A stone to plug the blackness of arrogance spewing out of me won’t be tossed around lightly!! Maybe the only way around our short comings isn’t around? No easy answers in life yet we can keep hoping anyway!
    Love your piece! Thought provoking and fun!

  3. I’m enjoying these theological turns you and Paschal have been taking. This one, heavily tempered (steeled?) with irony — have I mentioned how much I love the titles you give your posts? — was particularly pointed. I’m going to be thinking for days about the idea of gratitude as the antithesis of humility.

  4. mind over matter – other reactions are roiling around in my cranium, but just when it feels something intelligent will come of these nebulous responses, they morph and squish and ooze just out of reach of expression and so mind over matter prevails — not a very astutue reply to this (yet another great) piece of thought fallen from those talented fingertips of yours, but the only one that clarifies and gels into form enough to render itself amenable to being articulated — it bears revisiting and more study for me!!! — another provocative piece by the bad ass blogger for sure!!!

  5. Well told parable (sort of). And I will take that title to heart. Wouldn’t it be nice if there really were magic in stones one could buy at the mall? I love your sense of irony.

  6. hehe so engaging this was :)
    This sentence said it all to me: “as proud of himself as he was not having needed the stone…” hahah

    Maya Angelou always has the wisest things to say. I should drink her books. Or your books, when you decide to write one. ;)

  7. This is somewhere around the third or fourth time I’ve been by to read and comment. I keep getting interrupted. I finally found some peace and was able to finish. I absolutely love the title. I found myself identifying with the poor guy when he was testing his humility stone. Traffic in itself is enough, but all the rest. Oh my. As always, perfectly written from beginning to end. Loved it!

  8. Hi Lilly! Ahhh, yeah…I could probably use a humility stone myself lots of times. LOL! Thanks for coming back for another visit :-)

    Actually, Paschal, it probably is the meaning as well! After N read it, he burst out laughing, not because it was funny, but because the whole time he was on pause while I was writing it, he thought I was writing something reflective, meaningful, deeep! Surprise! Sorry, I have a headache. To me this piece felt like this: sometimes you just gotta take up space just to take up space, you know?
    I’m glad you concur with my habits-are-a-bitch-to-break theory, hereby renamed the change-needs-a-post-it theory. It’s more acceptable and carries the added humor of the universal truth of humans and post-its.
    I enjoyed the Kirk Franklin video very much! Thank you :-D

    Hi Present! I think if you want a humility stone you’re going to have to go down to the creek, pick out the stone that appeals to you most, and paint the word “Humility” on it! Because I’d hoped to use a photo of stones that actually had Humility printed on them, I gave the internet a good scouring and no company that I found made any such thing. I found that quite amusing, as did the Christian store lad here. Not to be deterred from my goony goal, though, naturally I pretended there was such a thing. Perfect, since I find, as danni pointed out, that a good deal of life is mind over matter! Glad to see you back around :-)

    Hi anno! Good, glad you enjoyed this (yes, steeled is more the case). I grazed Paschal’s two but didn’t get into the mix, which is weird because I love the parable of the talents. It’s true I was trying to wrap up a work project then, and I can be lazy about switching brain tracks if they’re too far apart…but now that you mention it, I oughta go back and have a go.
    And funny you should mention the post titles. I’ve always considered choosing titles to be one of the things I’m relatively good at, yet lately it’s been giving me fits. For instance, after I finished this little ditty, I had the nearly overwhelming urge to title it “Gall stones,” for chrissakes!
    The whole humility/gratitude thing is tricky-fun indeed. Seems to me, from out of focusing on gratitude, actively looking for the good in our lives and being genuinely grateful for it, from out of that comes true humility. But I haven’t got that far in my life lessons to say for sure! ;-)

    You’re not the only one with the squish and ooze, danni. I’ve got it right now. It’s both late and early and my brain has strongly suggested that I knock this late-night nonsense off and hit the sack. It ain’t happnin’ though. I gotta talk about mind over matter. That’s it. So many stories of this nature: putting belief, confidence, in an object or a tidbit of knowledge or a ritual, etc. and doing well until we find out we don’t have the object or the knowledge is flawed, the magic is no longer supporting us, the safety net we thought was there is not… I’ve often wondered why I don’t believe myself when I pick up a rock and tell myself it’s magic, but if someone else picks it up, and they look and feel the part, and tell me it’s magic, ooooh, then it’s magic. LOL! Mind over matter :-)

    Thanks, Granny Smith! Yes, that’s a good verse to remember. I know it shuts me right up whenever I do remember it! About the magic stones, as I wrote to danni, strong belief can be pretty magical. I just wish I could believe myself. LOL!

    I’m glad you enjoyed this little satire, Ms. Mood! Amen, re: Ms. Angelou and drinking her books! I love that concept :-D But if I ever write a book, I’m puttin’ it in pill form. Say! Maybe folks could down my pill with Maya Angelou’s liquid inspiration! No wait, it might be like mixing antihistamines with Xanax or something. Better do more research. I’ll get back to you on that ;-)

    I know the feeling BJ. All day has been like that for me and I’m just now attending to my blog. Forget the magic stones! What I wish for is a magic blog that pays me full time, that pays me period. LOL! Well, I’m glad you made it here however you made it here. Perhaps you went to the mall and got a “Peace” stone? Of course I’m also with you on feeling for the guy. He and I have a few things in common. Glad you enjoyed it :-)

    Hello Mary! I’m so glad you stopped by here again and liked what you saw! Looks like I’ll be over to visit you and your gorgeous grapevines after I’ve slept a spell!

  9. What a lot of interesting chatter going on around here! Your remark about not believing your own found stone but accepting the ‘magic’ from someone else is akin to why we can’t tickle ourselves, maybe, and even why … well, the religious implication go on from there. Maybe Zen masters know how to tickle themselves while the rest of us, (and James) need it from the outside!

  10. Hellooo, Bass! I think you’re onto something. The same mechanism that distinguishes between Self and Other when it comes to tickling, and cancels the tickling from Self, may be at the base of cancelling out even more than tickling, to include presenting empowering principles to ourselves. That’s kind of sad. But if it is the same mechanism, if the ability to prescribe our own psychological “magic” comes along with being able to tickle ourselves, then I’ll abandon any sadness for loss of magic, because can you imagine the horror of it? We’d be constantly tickling ourselves by mistake and therefore flinching and giggling constantly and we wouldn’t be able to get anything done! You think the world’s a mess now?! LOL!

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