Yes, dear children. That man was sick. That stinky pile over there, where the bugs swarm and the dogs sniff, remains evidence of his sickness.
No, young twenty-something. There’s no need to lie or cover up. He didn’t have the flu.
The simple truth is this: too much of anything in this world will poison you.
Last night, for this man, it was drink. It probably happened to many people, with the holiday and all. But it’s easy to point out someone else’s poison and label it bad, wrong, evil. But abstaining from alcohol won’t help you if your poison tends to be carbs, shoes or a growing Swiss bank account. You can give yourself a little pat on the back for shying away from the brown bottle, but it won’t heal your soul of its own tendencies to self-medicate.
Honestly, our numbing agents are relatively powerless until they’re mixed in to our souls. In and of themselves, the contents of a bottle, a shopping bag or a wallet have a neutral effect. They simply are. Until your soul attaches meaning to them, gropes for them in the midst of heartache or jealousy or hatred. Then those potions become poisons.
First it affects your body. Your body is the first line of defense. It’s where we feel, where we experience, where we synthesize what is happening in the world. And when you let in too much of anything, your body is the first part of you to tell you it’s too much. Listen to your body.
The poison will also begin to effect your mind. Your thoughts go toward it in the light of day and in the deep of night. Beware, sweet child. When you find your mind saying, “if I could just have one more…” then you’re probably being poisoned by your own hand.
Sadly, it will settle in your soul. It doesn’t make you an evil person. Our society tends to believe that a poisoned soul is the result of poor decisions and a lack of fortitude. No self-control, self-sufficiency, self-respect. I have trouble believing the exaggerated versions of our own struggles can be so other.
Fear not, my children. For every poison there is a remedy. Our sicknesses of self can be healed. The most common antidote is freely available and widely popular: love. Love for self, love for others, love for God, love for the created order.
Many old farm houses came equipped with 2 water sources: a cistern and a well. I imagine we all have within our souls two deep reservoirs. One is more like a cistern, catching whatever comes in. When it goes sour, it takes some work to return it to health. We use this kind of water for flushing and rinsing, maybe watering the garden. Another place in your soul is rather like a deep well. The water there is pure, good for drinking. Incredibly, it can meet the thirsts of others. The key to a good well is to dig deep.
You can spend your days trying to fill the cistern. Or you can put your energy into digging the well deeper. With every loving action and every generous intention, we drill another meter closer to the source. God put a well of love in you, an unlimited supply from which you may draw forever. If you find it running dry, perhaps it’s because you’ve been going to the cistern instead of the well.
When you start seeing evidence of poison, it’s not because the well went bad. You’re simply living off of what you put into the cistern. Get to the well, my children and keep digging until you drink clean water.