Monday, September 14, 2009


Hey everyone, I wanted to post today about gossip. Not that it's been especially on my mind recently, but because I wanted to highlight a brilliant passage from one of my favourite plays, Doubt, a parable, by John Patrick Shanley.
Here it is:
A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew – I know none of you have ever done this – that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rourke, and she told him the whole thing.
‘Is gossiping a sin?’ she asked the old man. ‘Was that the hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?’
‘Yes!’ Father O’Rourke answered her. ‘Yes, you ignorant, badly broughtup female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!’
So the woman said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness.
‘Not so fast!’ says O’Rourke. ‘I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!’
So the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed.
‘Did you gut the pillow with the knife?’ he says.
‘Yes, Father.’
‘And what was the result?’
‘Feathers,’ she said.
‘Feathers?’ he repeated.
‘Feathers everywhere, Father!’
‘Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on the wind!’
‘Well,’ she said, ‘it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.’
‘And that,’ said Father O’Rourke, ‘is gossip!’

I think that's a perfect allegory for gossip and it's a good reminder for me. I don't think I'm particularly horrible for gossipping, but I would certainly be lying if I said that I don't gossip or haven't gossipped. But it's something that I try to keep in the front of my mind, so I don't fall into it. I like that image of the idea that once out words are out of our mouthes, who knows where they are going to go? Scary, but also something that can be used for good. But if we speak and think with love all the time, that's something that we can be happy about having spread in the wind.

1 comment:

Logan said...

That is truly perfect.