The first time I saw a confessional, I was shocked that it wasn't like the movies, all cloak and dagger and hidden from the priest. I'd expected to come in all dressed in black, mumbling incoherently and vaguely about my spiritual failings and then flit out, nobody any the wiser to my identity. But confession is no longer confession in the Catholic church, it's reconciliation, and very few people hide behind a screen anymore which makes sense as the one I saw would only serve to hide a toddler, a prop more than anything else. It's more talking than anything else, said my deacon, by way of explanation. I felt the evil psychiatric profession leaching its way into the ritual, but was still intrigued. The way I had been raised had nothing but contempt for priest as middleman between you and God -- preachers of my youth would decry this as totally unnecessary. You can talk to God, they'd say. You don't need some so-called father doing it for you! But I believe they were missing the point.
Despite the Jocastas in our soul that beg us not to look, everyone needs to look sometimes and looking alone into the morass of our deep longings that we cannot voice is not an easy task. Our obsessions, circular in nature, turn in on themselves and like the rabbis of yore, we sometimes need another person with a rope to drag us out of what we consider the holy of holies in our mind -- doomed love affairs, addictions, past miseries. I think about the confessions I have heard, not as a priest, lawyer, psychiatrist, or with any higher authority save for love. Sometimes they happen early in the day, sometimes late in the evening -- as the masks drop off, the language becomes simple and is underlined with a desperation -- I would give my life for this thing, the thing that I should not want. To whom, as Chekhov writes, shall I tell my grief? Reconciliations and negotiations become one in the same and nothing ever balances, but for whatever relief we receive, we give thanks and this is prayer enough to save us.
Michelle's Spell for the Day
"There are places in the heart that do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering that they may have existence." Leon Bloy
Drinking memoir suggestion: Parched Heather King
Benedictions and Maledictions