One day a parishioner went into the church to see his priest for confession. The priest asked what he wished to confess, and he stated he had been gossiping about someone.
The churchgoer was not thinking this to be a serious sin and expected to be asked to say a couple of “Hail Mary’s.” However, the priest said to him, “Go onto the highest roof-top you can find in the community with a feather-down pillow, cut it open, and let all the feathers fly into the wind, then return to see me next week.”
The man wasn’t sure he’d heard the penance correctly, “But, but . . . what did you say?” The priest repeated himself.
The man left the church and the next day followed the priest’s instructions. The following week he returned to the church and told the priest he had done as asked.
“Okay, said the priest, now I want you to wander about the streets of your neighborhood and collect every feather that you let fly.” The man was shocked, “But that’s impossible – I’ll never be able recover them all – they have scattered everywhere with the wind!”
The priest replied, “And nor can you retrieve the rumors you have started or the gossip you have spread.”
It is so easy to spread rumors and gossip about people, especially using social media. But we should be mindful of how hurtful, and dangerous, this can be. We damage ourselves as well as cause distress to others.
P.S. I write this to remind myself what I should do and how I should act.
(Thanks to Kenaram das for telling me this story)