Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sally's Missive

Sally Shepherd Rogers is a friend from my school days. I won't say how many years ago we attended the University Junior and then University Senior High School. Let me just say, in our earlier years Alice Lon , a performer on the Lawrence Welk Show, petticoats were in style. Sally and I reconnected in 2009 when our high school had a reunion.

Sally shared an article she writes for her church newletter. I'd like to share it with you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sally's Missive

Whatcha doin‘?” my daughter-in-law asked when she noticed my 14-year-old grandson gazing fixedly at his brand-new baby brother.

“I’m observing him,” the young genius replied. (I’m not being facetious here, he actually is certifiably brilliant.)

“And so,” his mother questioned, “what are the results of your observations so far?”

“Well. . .he breathes, he changes colors, and he exhibits a wide variety of facial expressions.”

My grandson can be forgiven for attempting to use the scientific method to explain a new human -- or even a used one for that matter. After all, throughout our history, we’ve applied much worse and more damaging methods of defining ourselves and our young, often to the detriment of our entire race. I remember a statement I heard years ago, made by a television character who each week dealt with the most sordid of fictional crimes.

When another character asked how he could stand to even look upon those who so horribly victimized others, the ersatz detective answered: “I try to remember that each one of them was once an infant, someone’s child. Then, I look for that child in every criminal.”

That insight has stayed with me throughout the years, although I’ve not always successfully implemented it. I will keep trying, though, and with God‘s help, I‘ll get there.

Of course, there’s the ongoing, never-ending contention between “experts” as to whether infants are molded by environment or genetics. I’m pretty sure we’ll never know the answer to that.

In my experience as a two-time mom and six-time grandmother, however, I’ve concluded babies are neutral. They are inarguably born innocent, yet they’re neither good nor evil. They’re a blank slate upon which others write until the child grows old enough to write for himself. But even then, what’s been previously written will affect the adult that little one becomes.

At our recent diocesan council, a young man stood before the 400 assembled clergy and delegates and, while choking back tears, told of being sexually abused as a child. I was awed by his courage -- that’s not an easy tale to tell. The man had suffered, and it was obvious he suffered still from what had been done to him.

Children are vulnerable and defenseless. Only the most cowardly, only the lowest of the low would seek to harm one of them. My anger at those perpetrators is intense and, I must admit, vengeful.

But then, with God’s help I can perhaps remember this -- that even the worst of us were ourselves once infants, and our own slates were written upon by others, whether for good or for ill.

I must bear in mind that victim and victimizer alike once lay helpless in a crib, where each breathed, changed colors, and exhibited a wide variety of facial expressions.

I must remember that even the most immoral of us were once innocents.

And with God’s help, I will.

Thank you readers for stopping by. Please leave Sally a comment. Happy Reading and Writing!



  1. Thank you, Sally, for letting me share your missive. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  2. An excellent, and interesting missive, Sally. And you are so right! I love your line: babies are a blank slate upon which others write...

    Have you ever written a meditation for The Upper Room? If not, you might find it a good outlet (I've had one published and they've accepted another). The little books go all over the world. You'll find details at:

  3. Your insight and generous spirit is inspiring. We enjoyed the article as well as the reminder that we were all just blank slates once upon a time, and it is the world the writes our missives whether for good or bad. Still, there are times, the vengeful comes to the forefront and one forgets.... Again, we appreciate the reminder.

  4. Sally,

    I enjoyed your article. It's interesting that you don't believe evil can be born, but is created by it's environment. It has been proven that genetics plays a large part in how a person turns out.

    I once believed the way you do, but no more.

  5. Sally,

    What wonderful thoughts. I recently wrote a poem about seeing a street person and part of it says...

    “I can’t help but think, you were once a child—a child with dreams and hope.

    But now you seem to be at the end of some sad rope.”

    How true it is that even the worst of us was once a new clean unwritten page....that was poorly written upon...first by others and then by their own hand and that writing made all the difference. If we are blessed enough to be in a good place in our lives....we must count those blessings and at least in part remember the moments when those who are not so blessed...were once innocent babes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so beautifully.