ATTACHMENT TO SIN
Think of the title
of this article:
Shadows" it is an apparent impossibility. How can shadows
remain after the object of which they are the mere shadows is gone?
When you have stood under a late afternoon sun, your shadow long in
the west have ever you moved and seen your shadow remain where once
you stood and now stand no more?
The only way to make what is impossible otherwise possible is to take
a photograph of the shadow alone as you stand before it. You can then
keep the photograph of what had been and is no more, and return to the
moment that was, and like the shadow, is no more. The analogy is clear.
have left the place, the sin, in which we once stood and have no intention
of returning but for all our efforts a shadow remains even as we
ourselves have gone. The shadow lingers despite all the years and the
fierce and even faithful resolution that never would the sun find us
there again. We are there no more, but inexplicably the shadow still
falls over our hearts. It mocks us, either filling us with melancholy
desire, or imbuing us with unremitting guilt. If it has been sinful
love, then likely it will dog you all your days. The sin is no more.
The person is long gone. We soberly recognize that the occasion can
never be recaptured even should the person remain. So much has changed.
We have grown older even as our illusions have not. The landscape has
changed even as it has remained immutable in our memory. Even could
it be again, it would not be the same again. We know this. After all,
we have fled it, and those once desperate pangs seize us no longer.
Or for all the impossibility, for all the grave danger, for our
clear recognition of both do they ...?
This is the predicament of what is called attachment to sin.
The concept of
"attachment to sin", however, is so ... clinical, remote, even austere.
In dealing with the human heart, it appears heartless. We have and
so often with great difficulty and immeasurable pain left the sin,
have we not? We have fled Egypt. And even now ... even now,
after these many years, we are gaunt and even crippled by the effort.
There is no calculus sufficient to the cost, but we have fled nonetheless,
urged on by grace. Despite the prompting of our hearts to look back
at the lissome and distant smoke rising from the flesh-pots of Egypt
that we have left for a freedom that we have not yet found, we set our
faces like flint against an unrelenting wind that would turn them back
... that calls us to remembrance. Still we wander in the desert,
the Jordan an open dream before us, the Red Sea a closed memory behind
Resolutely we press on. There are yet a host of sins to come that we
must drive out before us, but none prove so strong as the enemy we fled.
No Canaanite or king of Midian has the might of Pharaoh who would
call us back to slavery and servitude. We fled him but we did not defeat
him. His chariots pursued us to no avail, and it was not by our power
that they were splintered and still litter the banks of our dreams.
The Midianites had chariots of steel, yes and we left them strewn
in the desert behind us! But Pharaoh had fire! Alike he kindled the
fleshpots without, and the deep craving within! Grimly we watched towers
burn in Midian before us, but with what longing do we look upon the
burning fleshpots of Egypt behind us!
our plight in our attachment to sin.
is perhaps the most desperate, the most unrelenting, and in the end,
the most deadly warfare of all. The victory is conclusive, but paradoxically
the defeat is indecisive. The enemy has fled, but somehow his shadow
remains. He has been subdued but not vanquished, defeated, but not put
utterly to death. He is, in short, forever and irrevocably a threat:
unleash him and he will contend with us to the death. It is true that
he is no longer present, but it is equally true that by fault or misfortune
he may find his way to us yet. As long as he lives his shadow falls
over us, and nothing short of his death will free us from him.
Sin survives the sword. All your violence against the sin within will
avail you nothing. Your flight from sin will not outrun its shadow.
The root lies deeply within ... and it lives, and if allowed will spring
to life again. The very soil itself must be
be subject to the furnace of holy love that leaves no seed of malice
or sin dormant within, nor even its husk a scandal without.
You will never be free of the seed of death which is sin that
lingers within you, as long as you cultivate remembrance of sin
... the very soil itself in which alone it takes root, thrives, and
in the end throttles ...
It is not enough
that we have left sin the occasion, the intention, the act itself
... it is not enough and it will not suffice. Unless our attachment
to sin, our desire for what is sinful, is sundered to the last sinew,
however tightly we bind it, it keeps us in turn captive. It is the proverbial
wolf we hold by the ears, afraid to keep hold of it and afraid to let
sin is a consciously total act. You cannot let go of sin, "a little".
If you have not slain the wolf, you cannot hold him by one ear.
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