Sin Eaters

Sunday Evening Reflections

After watching the sun set with a beer and a meandering conversation about travel and goals (rough life, it is), we watched a movie that got me thinking. Final Cut was the selection tonight, a mediocre 2004 film about editing people’s recorded memories after they’ve died, with Robin Williams and the guy who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ. Lincoln and I agreed that Williams can be a decent actor when he lays off the blow. At one point Robin Williams is telling Jesus about Sin Eaters. A family would place a piece of bread and a bowl of milk on the body of their recently deceased loved one, and the sin eater would say a prayer and eat the bread and drink the milk, symbolically absorbing their sins. Absolution rituals are obviously a recurring religious theme, but what I like about the sin eating concept is that it’s a person who takes on another’s sin, not a deity.

There is a woman who comes into the store, and I really don’t like her. She always comes in with an older woman, her mother probably, hovers and stares as the wrinkly old crone signs her X on the back her government check, and then promptly pockets all of the money. The family – grandma, mum and dad, kid – came in today and played out this scenario yet again. The old woman tried to buy some take away food from me but they had only left her with ten dollars. She had to argue with them to get the extra 1.50 that she needed to purchase the chicken and chips. This was all carried out in staccato and extra loud Alywarra, but I’m pretty sure I got the gist of it. Sometimes you don’t need a common language to understand a conversation. Eventually, the woman handed over the change and smiled at me, showing an unfortunate gum to tooth ratio. I hated her in that moment.

But, perhaps, what I should have done is eaten a chip in her honor.

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