Saturday, December 29, 2012

I Confess

Today we return to a popular topic: Confession!

It has been at least a year since I last mentioned it. The reason is simple: I have not been going. It is sad but true. It was always so dramatic when I went! Remember my first confession? And the confession when I confessed I drank too much wine? And then there was the watershed event of going back after several decades. Watershed event: I am not kidding! I shed water all right.

I swear, swear I, that the devil gets in the way of you going to confession. There is always something! Once I  was going to go but I had the time wrong. Another time I was going to go but I had to go to my mom's. Something was always getting in the way. Often I would make plans to walk to St. Michael's, the Confession Capital, from the office. But it would rain. Or I would be stuck doing some emergency story. It is always something!

Finally I thought: This is ridiculous, I make time for Zumba, I can make time for confession. Also the fact that I had not been to confession in so long came to symbolize to me how frayed my life had gotten. I could not stop biting my nails and I could not get my hair cut and I could not lose 10 pounds and I could not get to confession.

So, today.

Today I went!

My unwitting accomplice was my friend Lynn. She invited me to get together for lunch downtown and I said yes. Not only do I love to have lunch with my friend Lynn, but I thought: This way I can get to St. Michael's and DO IT.

So, after lunch at the Washington Market ... their chili is good!! ... there I am, kneeling at St. Michael's.

And you know what, you get away from confession a little, you forget how it's done. There is one confessional with its light lit but no traffic in and out. St. Michael's is a funny church. It is perfectly normal for people of all ages and ethnicities to show up and just hang out in the church praying or meditating and not doing anything else. There were several dozen people there, by themselves, or in twos or threes, whatever. One gentleman was going around quietly praying the Stations of the Cross.

And I am kneeling there thinking: OK, someone, go to confession. Because that light was on! And I wanted to make sure no one was in there. I thought, if I could watch someone go in and then leave, I would know that no one was there behind that curtain.

But no one went.

Finally I got up. Someone has to be the first to eat an oyster. I asked a gentleman in a nearby pew to take a snapshot of me approaching the booth.

Then I pulled aside the curtain, gently, as I had that other time when I was delinquent and did not know the etiquette. I could not believe I was almost at that same point again, you know?

No one was in there. I knelt down. The kneeler squeaked.

Immediately the window slid open and I had the priest's undivided attention.

Which, I have to say, I loved. One other time I went to confession, the last time I think it was, I felt rushed. I felt the priest was rushing me, because other people were in line, or Mass was about to start, something like that. I get jangled when I am rushed.

The good news today was: This priest was wonderful. He listened to me, he had good advice on my various situations, he waited  to start talking. It crossed my mind: Priests go through this same thing. They have to go to confession too. And these Jesuits at St. Michael's, they are terrific. What tremendous, patient, caring, humorous, smart, worldly-wise men. They listen to you and they can help.

I got tears in my eyes just because of this priest's kindness, humanity and understanding.

So. That is the good news. That, and for my penance, all I had to say is a "Hail Holy Queen." Which is my favorite prayer. If that is not the bargain of the century I do not know what is, other than finding Leonard Pennario's "Rhapsodies Under the Stars" for $3 at an estate sale.

Now that we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop, the bad news is...

That priest wants me back in that booth! In a week!!

I have been put on the once-a-week confession plan!


Remember when that other priest told me to come back once a month? Haha, that really worked.

The priest today said, "Use our Holy Father as your model. He is a very holy man but he goes to confession once a week."

OK, I am going to try to do this. I get to Zumba, I can get to confession. I am going to go on this plan.

I will look on the bright side.

Think of the stories I will have to tell!

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