Look, it's a mark of the efficacy of what he's up to that I'm writing these words. The fact is, I'm thinking about those silly aphorisms he hangs on his company's sign along the street. I can't help but see them every last trip into town. And they're not silly. I'm sorry for having said that, but not sorry enough to edit out the word.
Aphorisms are inherently irritating, like an itch. When they carry a spiritual kick, they're like a full-blown case of the hives. Maybe it's just me.
Not long ago, there was a spelling error up there on his sign, a common error that drove me crazy. I don't remember the sentiment anymore, but for a month at least he used advise where he should have said advice. I didn't want to be Aunt Clara the Grammar Nazi, so I didn't call him or write a note. Eventually someone did. Made a trip town less painful.
What's up there now gets under my skin, in part, because I break out easily. My parents did it, both of them: if someone wants to preach, they would gladly critique. Then, as an English teacher I spent 40 years in a desert of student papers. I can't help myself.
I've prated long enough. Here's the silly spiritual maxim he has up this month.
"The world sees what you do,
but God sees why you do it."
It's a variation on "Be careful little eyes what you see," and it's likely theologically sound. "His eye is on the sparrow," after all, right? I read those words everyday, two or three times. If I had the wherewithal to look somewhere else at that spot on the street, I'd be happy. But I don't, okay? Woe is me.
Enough. This armchair theologian and ex-English teacher has decided how I'd treat the irritant.
I'd change "God sees" to "God knows." This tormenting little maxim still holds its sting that way, but I can live more peaceably with the image. That God knows the heart is somehow God-like. Scary? Sure, and for me, a sinner, it always will be.
But at least he's not somewhere on high with a pair of binoculars or a video camera hidden in a fountain pen. He's not furtive about it, not back there in the madding crowd tailing me like some divine gumshoe. He just knows. Knows makes him bigger than we are, and he is God. He forever is.
The guy who owns the business means to have us clean up our acts--I get that. And that's okay, even if I don't take kindly to him (the owner) looking over my shoulder and making judgments. "Puritanism," Mencken said quite famously," is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time." Puritanism is in the aphorism, don't you think? Maybe I'm just too much a Puritan myself.
Anyway, I'm tempted to buy my own set of letters, to get out there in the darkness some night and do some editing. I bet no one would notice. I could just take the whole line down some night, but I'm no terrorist.
And I'm wise to the fact that all of this makes it embarrassingly clear that the guy who puts up those signs is winning. He got me, all right? I'm doing exactly what he wanted people to do--I'm thinking. And, if you're reading this, so are you. Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.
That silly aphorism may be driving me nuts, but I'm thinking.
God sees that too, doesn't he? I hope so.
One way or another, I think it's been up there long enough. It's time the boss changes the message, thank goodness.