Pray with Dirty Fingers

Leah Sackett

He’s got his self-righteous fingers in your pocket, just now. He brokers the towering, stony-faced edifice of concrete and stone spirituality. He is steadfast with a hand out at the threshold of faith. This man strokes his masculine show of a robust goatee, a little too Saturday night. In his other hand he is charging fees to climb the stairway to heaven. With the slight-of-hand of a sweaty palm he opens the coffers of token-based religiosity; he delivers dogma bent on cleaving you into the fold with the absolution of your mind.

There is another way to spend your money. The spirituality that hangs out in incensed-burning storefronts selling smells and crystals. A “natural” way to include capitalism in the skein of meditation bowls and tarot cards. You exchange community and a weekly congregation for the “shaman salesmen,” leaning against the Mystic Shoppe wall. He looks familiar to you as he overcharges for the paraphernalia he sells. You dig in your pocket feeling for bill and coin. Your rummaging rains down a feeling of cardboard faith in exchange for the spending of self-respect.

Leah Sackett is a short story writer. Her debut book, Swimming Middle River, was published with REaD Lips Press in 2020. Her short story, The Family Blend, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize with Crack the Spine. Her work has won various awards such as the Gold Award in Art Ascent, Two Sisters Publishing Contest the Institute for Women and Gender Studies’ Creative Writing Award. Over 50 of her stories have appeared in literary journals. In addition, she is an adjunct lecturer in the English department and the Communication & Media department at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, where she earned her MFA. Her short stories explore journeys toward autonomy and the boundaries placed on the individual by society, family, and self. Learn more about Leah’s published fiction here.