<b>Redemption by Wendy Lawton</b><br><br>Audio version <a href="http://ripr.org/post/lessons-learned-messing" target="_blank">www.ripr.org</a><br><br>The story starts with a mistake. We all make them:Say things that are not true.Take things that are not ours.Ignore the warning label or the lump.We love to find the short cut to the easy way out.Me? Mistakes? Take your pick.<br><br>Here is one: I spend money I don’t have.<br><br>I have been making this particular mistake for some time, but it became clear one night not long ago when I sat down with homework from my financial planner: Go through your check book and catalogue three months of spending. All of it, every penny. And I did, yes, the bills and the groceries and the gas. But also the coffees, cute shoes, concert tickets, children’s books, children’s clothes, children’s birthday party gifts, work lunches, date dinners, Disney World. The poetry books. The beach house. The bottles of Prosecco. Carumba.<br><br>To see my mistake so clearly — right there in my own cramped hand — was painful. And humbling. But here’s the deal. I want a house, someplace modest and beautiful, for me and my daughter. I’ve had houses. And they ground me. Give me pride — and a place to plant my flowers and gather my friends. Houses, however, cost money. So, to get one, I will need to stop spending and start saving.<br><br>Can I do it? Yes. Because this is what I believe: I believe in redemption. <br><br>Not the sinning kind. The hopeful, hardworking kind. The kind that requires an honest look at your mistakes, then a sincere effort at correcting them. It’s the Dickens kind of redemption. Every December, I haul out my video of “A Christmas Carol,” and cry and cheer as Ebenezer Scrooge sees the error of his ways and dances through London as he unburdens himself of his greed and his Grinchy old heart.<br><br>It doesn’t take much to see our collective Scrooge at work in this world, to see our collective mistakes. Pollution, corruption, oppression, recession. We can’t seem to kill our oil wells, but we are killing as many as 140,000 species a year. We are changing the weather.<br><br>But I look around, here in my city of Providence, and I see redemption. My daughter’s school has a new playground. Mills host farmer’s markets. Artists build offices. A grand Art Deco fountain, dry for 28 years, will flow again this fall. On Hope Street, of course.<br><br>I believe that if you want a new and better life, if you want a new and better world, you have to be a new and better person. Me, I’ve got a new wallet. Inside, only cash. Outside, it’s bedecked with butterflies — those fragile, improbably beautiful reminders of redemption.