Choosing the Stick

We thank you, for you have not destroyed us with our sins, but have continued to love us; and though we were sunk in despair, you have raised us up to glorify your power. St. Basil’s Prayer

That’s enough! Go pick a stick!

When I was a kid, two of my playmates were Linda and Brenda McDonald; they lived in the house across the street from me, and they both had a great sense of adventure that got them into trouble. I could always tell when it was their father who caught them in one of their misadventures because of the punishment they received. He sent them out into the back yard to pick the stick he would use for their spanking. Linda always picked the thinnest, greenest one she could find; Brenda always chose a fat, rotted one that was falling apart. Sticks chosen, they would sit on the back stairs to think about what they had done and wait for their father.

It only took a few times for Linda and Brenda to realize that the outcome was always the same: their father would come outside, sit down with his daughters, then declare that he just didn’t have it in him to spank them. He’d give them a hug, ask them not to repeat whatever had gotten them into trouble in the first place, and tell them to go play.

Perhaps our own misdeeds end in similar circumstances, with us thinking we need to choose the stick we’ll be beaten with. Perhaps the point isn’t choosing a stick; it’s taking the time to think about our actions, fess up to them, and remember that we are loved even when we have made mistakes. And be grateful our sins haven’t destroyed us.

For the full prayer, click St. Basil’s Prayer: Lent 2024 above…

3 thoughts on “Choosing the Stick

  1. David Anderson

    Oh, that’s a great story–one I will probably steal and use myself! I wasn’t expecting that ending. Children in that era were often tasked with finding their own stick or switch, so I expected Linda and Brenda would get their lashing. I’m still pondering why I still choose my own stick.

  2. Johnna Post author

    Mr. McDonald had a good sense of humor – and five daughters, each with a wild streak. I think he was teaching them the skill of reflection and hoping they would start using it BEFORE getting into trouble!

  3. Pingback: Spare the Rod · Finding Your Soul

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