Other Kinds of Debts

The word ‘debt’ has become synonymous with ‘Eurozone crisis’, ‘Greece’, ‘recession’ and ‘default’. It conjures up visions of grey suits and number-crunching, police in riot gear, austerity and anxiety. There are other kinds of debts, however, and it can be good to remember them. Here is a random list of some of mine which you can compare with your own:

I am indebted to my ancestors, not just my parents, for pretty well everything attributable to nature and nurture, from my awkwardness of person to love of country, language and Faith; to my first teachers, for opening up the mysteries of reading, writing and arithmetic, so making possible the intellectual discoveries of later years; to friends, for rubbing a few rough edges off me and enriching life with their kindness and giftedness; to my employers, for convincing me that I was not cut out to be a banker for ever; to my community, for accepting me and showing me the possibility of holiness; to those I meet online or off, who challenge or comfort, as occasion demands.

These are debts that cannot be measured in pounds and pence but which shape our lives as much, if not more than, economic circumstances; and the interesting thing is that they are debts we can acknowledge gratefully, even gladly. Each one of us is capable of repaying them, if we are willing to make the effort. That is part of the glory of being human.

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8 thoughts on “Other Kinds of Debts”

  1. A long time ago now I read about “the universal bank of goodwill” or some such title. The idea was that even if we could not repay the person who did good to us, we could somehow repay by doing good to others.

  2. Thank you for this post, Sr Catherine, the implications of which go very deep.

    I hold to Jenny’s idea. When we elect to share the Cross of Christ, our own debts are written off, but that frees us and inspires us, sometimes even goads us, to give out in genuine gratitude in a universal sense. Thus the bearing of our personal cross, the package God hands us to deal with, becomes something creative, renewing of the earth, and beautiful.

    • “When we elect to share the Cross of Christ, our own debts are written off” – brings to mind the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here’s to my indebtedness for the Sacraments. Last week we had a Healing Mass at our church, with laying on on hands, anointing, followed, on Sunday (Mother’s Day here in Canada) by a Crowning and scriptural Rosary hour. We are very indebted for the gift of Mary to us as our mother by Jesus. You make a good point, Rosy, the more we receive, the more we are inclined to give.

  3. That there are “debts that cannot be measured in pounds and pence” ( wanted to say pounds, shillings and pennies) is something too many of us forget. It’s a shame that a few more politicians especially don’t remember it.

  4. Today I was mindful of the aunt who had the patience to teach me to knit. I was trying to teach the skill to some young adults and both thanked and admired my Aunty J.
    But when I acknowledge my debts, it is usually doctors and all those who stand behind their work that come to mind.

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