Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday love and larceny

I’m dashing this off before church on a Sunday. In a half-hour I have to get dressed and ready; in forty minutes I have to toodle down the road. But first I have a confession to make.

We Protestants are at a disadvantage when it comes to confession-making. Those of us who attend churches that bill themselves as progressive, like mine, are in a particular bind. “Sin” isn’t really part of our spiritual vocabulary. In lieu of priests, we are forced to turn to blogs. Forgive me, reader, for I have … done something I probably shouldn’t have done. Habitually. Every Sunday, in fact, as faithfully as meditation and prayer.

Every single Sunday, I walk into church (late, typically), and I sit down, and I reach right in front of me and grab the pen out of the seatback in front of me, and, God help me, I slip it right into my purse.

This is something I do slyly, in a quick, distracted-looking motion. Often I pretend to be looking for something in my shoulder bag. It’s a movement akin to the yawn-and-reach that leads to an arm across the back of the chair on a first date. Nothing to see here—I’m just stretching.

My purse is full of purloined church pens—black, mostly, with medium points, rubber grips, a clip for attaching it to my notebook. On rare occasions I have put one back as I’ve grabbed my new prize. … Oh, hell, that’s a lie. I keep the things and never return them. They delight me.

What I do to make up for my bad habit is put extra money in the offering. My regular offering takes the form of a monthly deduction from my bank account, but I always slip a five, a ten, or a twenty into the pouch as it goes around. It’s my pen-tithe, or, more accurately, my pen-alty. I figure the pen comes in a package and has a unit price of less than a buck, so I’m making good … right?

On Sundays, I sit in a big room with good-hearted people and hear words about peace and about ways to reach my potential while reflecting the compassion of the creator. I guess I want to leave with an artifact from the experience—carry a little bit of that feeling with me as I go. If I write a check or cross things off a grocery list or a sign a note from the teacher, I do it with love. And maybe a touch of larceny.

At another church, I guess I’d understand that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. At my church, Unity Church in Springfield, Missouri, they understand that that’s just Karen; she’s a writer, and she pays more than she really needs to for pens.

Some of those things have a poem in them, though, and they’re worth the cost.


  1. What would a non-writer steal from your church?

    1. They have those nice purse-sized tissue packets, if this non-writer has the sniffles or likes to cry a lot.