Sometimes we have to deal with other folk’s crap. Sometimes we must deal with our own.
I made a mistake yesterday.
I gave some fatty beef rib bones to my dog Penny. She enjoyed every lick, every chew, every gnaw.
She enjoyed them, but they did not serve her well. They gave her the “runs”.
I woke this morning to find some dog poo in my hallway. I commended Penny for relieving herself, in extremis, on a tiled floor. Later I discovered that she had also evacuated on the carpeted floor of my Lanai.
To be fair to Penny, I’d heard her whimpering during the night, but I'd ignored her.
So I had a fairly extensive clean-up session this morning. I did this with as much grace as I could muster.
Penny did not receive a single scolding. I took responsibility for my own foolishness.
This was all like ministry as a Priest.
Often I was called upon to deal with other people’s crap.
They wanted me to solve, resolve, or clean-up the mess they had made in their lives and loves.
I could often help with the clean-up. But I could not (and would not) take responsibility for the other's shi-t.
The best I could do would be to suggest ways through which they might avoid making messes in the future.
Of course, I had also to deal with my own crap.
I had a choice.
Either I could project my messes on to the failures, inactions, and actions of others.
Or I could accept responsibility for my own crap, and not only apologise for it, but also admit when I had been wrong.
This was tough, and I often apologised, but did not always admit my own wrong.
But when I did – it inevitably led to a break-through in trust and truth with parishioners.
The road to healthy relationships takes a good turn when I/we admit to our own mistakes, and acknowledge the messes I/we have caused.