The Sin Seller
A funny little man with a screwed up nose
came pedaling down the street.
“Seven sins have I that you’ll want to buy,
seven sins, but they’re not what you think.”
“I’ll take some lust and a pinch of pride,
just a touch of greed will do.
A scoop of anger is enough today—
hold the sloth—I’ve got lots to do.”
He looked at me with his rheumy eyes
and tried to lift his head.
“You didn’t hear what I said to you—
there’re things that you’ll want instead.
“Envy’s not for sale, gluttony non plus—
those are all for free, you know.
Look inside your heart and I bet you’ll find
you can order them ‘to go.’
“But what I’ve got you will recognize
though you might not call them sins.
Check this out, it’s called blame, gets you off the hook.
It’s okay. Take a second look.”
“I’ll go for that, doesn’t seem too bad.
Shouldn’t send me straight to hell.
What else have you got that can help me out,
something light—to my conscience quell.
“Ah, then you’ll want this.” He held out his hand,
Crooked fingers clasped a glass.
“Take a sip and you’ll see (with veiled eyes)
those in need—then walk blithely past.”
“Oh, the poor—those who beg—they are everywhere.
Always looking for something more.
It would be a relief not to have to care.
You know, they’re just looking to score.
“What else do you have that I could use—
Anything to bring joy to my heart?”
His smile should have warned of the slippery path
I was sliding down from the start.
He wrung his hands and his words hissed out
through the gaps in his crooked teeth.
“Here, I’ve got a book that will help you learn
how to use others who believe
“that by helping you they are serving God.
They’re so easy to deceive.
Use them all you want, they will never guess
they are tools to meet your needs.”
“I think that’s all that I want for now,
I’m a little low on cash.
How much do I owe for all these sins?
Let me know and I’m gone in a flash.”
“Not so soon, my friend, these sins are cheap
and I have much more to offer.
Take a look in this box and see what you think.
You can add this one to your coffer.”
He lifted the lid and I peered in.
The box appeared to be empty.
“What the heck is this—do you think I’m dumb?
I suspect that you’re out to contempt me.”
“Can’t you see what this is?” he said to me.
It’s a place to hide your talent.
Once you put it out there for all to see
you cannot find time just ‘to be.’”
“Ah, I like that,” I said to the man.
I want to hoard my gifts.
I’ll take a dozen, put them in the bag.
What more to give me a lift?”
He pulled a watch from his bag of tricks.
“You’ll want this one for sure.
It will store your time for you alone
to use at your leisure.”
“I’ll go for that, I could use some rest.
I’m really tired from living
with those who expect me to be aware
of everything that they’re giving.”
“Then you’ll want this, it will free you up,”
He said with a glint in his eyes.
He reached out his hand and gave me a cup
with a message engraved on its side:
Forget about everything that you hear;
you really don’t need to be grateful.
Ignore those gifts and the joy that they bring.
Don’t pretend that you are thankful.
“That way no one will wait for your return
on whatever they’ve invested.
You won’t have to give of yourself to them.
Love’s easier if untested.
“Take these drugs,” he said, “then I’m done with you.
You’ll want to have this treasure.
Be sure that you remain always unaware
of beauty, joy and pleasure
for if you see what God has done
you will want more of Him
and then you’ll live in consciousness
and not enjoy your sin.”
I paid the man and he ran off
carting his merchandise.
But when I got home and saw what I’d bought
something opened wide my eyes.
Things just were not as he said they were,
these were not just harmless vices.
Within each one I could see the seed
that would lead to darkest crisis.
I’d been terribly fooled by his evil lies.
I saw it now all too clearly.
It’s bit-by-bit that the soul dies.
It doesn’t scream, it simply sighs.
And so I took his bag of tricks
and tossed it in the ocean
of God’s good grace and cleansing love.
It’s little things that will do you in.
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