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Gentle Virtues

The Royal Blue Pencil

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09/01/2010 - I love the color blue. I love the blueness of the sky, the cornflower blue crayon and blue lobelia spilling over the edge of a flower pot. But there is one blue object I do not care to see. That is a royal blue pencil.

My dislike for it began several years ago. I was a junior hiigher volunteering in our school's supply store. One day my eyes were drawn to a box of royal blue pencils embossed in gold. They looked much nicer than my stubby yellow pencil. I thought to myself, "Those are nice. I'd like to have one but I don't have a dime with me." I let my mind justify that I was entitled to a pencil since I gave my time to running the store. Even though I wasn't fully convinced with my reasoning, I took one anyway.

My heart accepted that pencil the way my eye accepts a grain of sand. Although, my dishonesty seemed small, it greatly irritated my heart. In math class I nearly stood up and called out, "I will bring the dime tomorrow!!"

Once I got home, I put the money in my backpack and tried to console my heart.

Into the evening I kept wondering, "Why does this bother so me much? It's only a pencil worth ten cents."

My heart knew something that my mind needed to understand. A dishonest gain is not purely a gain. It's an exchange. It is an exchange of integrity, inner peace and self respect. No pencil or anything else for that matter is worth the exchange.

I was never able to enjoy that royal blue pencil. In fact, I could say it was a royal pain! Oh, it wrote well and it erased well but it was a constant reminder of me being dishonest.

The word dishonest is of Latin origin. It breaks down as the prefix dis meaning "a parting from" and honestus which means honor. When we are dishonest, we are departing from honor. Ouch.

It isn't always easy to be honest. It can be inconvenient. We may need to return to a store during rush hour to pay for an overlooked carton of eggs or write out a check because we overcharged someone. We must be determined to be honest.

Recently I learned a hard lesson. I didn't catch someone overpaying me at my garage sale. My mind was distracted with a series of questions such as "What do we do with the things that don't sel1?" and "How much can I haul to a second hand store before closmg time?" When the gentleman returned for his money, my mistake hit me hard .. My carelessness made it look like I couldn't "care less" about him and his family -- quite the contrary.

If we are going to be honest, we must be intentional and clear minded. We must look out for others, not just ourselves. We must desire integrity, inner peace and self respect more than financial gain or our hearts will feel blue, royally blue.

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