Poet William Carlos Williams wrote that there are “no ideas but in things”—a principle he practiced in his poetry through an emphasis on common language and the details of everyday life. This aesthetic likely grew out of Williams’s career as a physician tasked to examining and treating the body. One of Williams’s best-known poems is “This is Just to Say,” a title that carries us into the first line . . .
I have eaten and which Forgive me
the plums you were probably they were delicious
that were in saving so sweet
the icebox for breakfast and so cold
Williams often wrote in the instant of inspiration, and this poem feels a little like a jotted note. The speaker recognizes that a trespass has occurred. But even while asking for forgiveness, he can’t help mentioning that those were some delicious plums that he did know had been saved for breakfast and/but were so sweet and so cold.
I often wrestle with untangling absolute naked repentance from its lesser cousins: 1) the desire to repent without actually being changed—Forgive me for doing that thing I’ll be doing—or 2) the desire to appear, at least to myself, as repentant—Forgive me . . . yes I know . . . but . . . they were . . . just there in the icebox . . . probably maybe saving . . . but so sweet and so cold . . .
Maybe like me, you grew up saying the Lord’s Prayer as “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That word—trespass—suggests something fundamental about sin. Maybe we’ve run or maybe we’ve slipped, but one way or another we pause for that look around and we know: At least here, I’m no longer walking the path with God.
The prescription: Turn back. And work toward what’s true: the vulnerability absolutely central to repentance—the turning back to claim God has something more in mind (and for you) than just even that plum.
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.