Confession Line Angst

Confession Line Angst March 7, 2018

Artwork by Elizabeth Beiter

I step inside a church for the first time in a month.


God and I have been estranged since the new year began. I was angry and he was giving me space.


But, finally, my longing for the Eucharist wins out, so I join my roommate on a pilgrimage to Reconciliation. How can a 12-minute drive feel longer than the Camino de Santiago? I wonder this as my roommate drives.


I hate waiting for Confession. I’ve had traumatic experiences with this sacrament ever since my childhood, and now, despite the many kind priests who’ve gently helped me heal in more recent years, each journey to the confessional is a misery of panic-induced waiting.


When we left the apartment I knew I was forgetting something. I walked through the Church doors and realized it was my copy of Love&Salt by Jessica Mesman Griffith—that, and a notebook. Without these two lifelines, walking into a church is like walking back through the doors into the abuse of my past. Into the awful person I once was. The person I’d been brainwashed to be.


So I sit here—your typical obnoxious millennial, typing away at my Android. I looked for paper in the vestibule to scribble on, trying to avoid using my phone (Why? Because it seems unfitting in a Church, and I’m scared the other pilgrims will judge me). Otherwise, without a place to vomit my words, I’d succumb to the trauma flashbacks and have to leave. Or maybe I’d carve the memories into my hands, excoriating the flesh from my thumbs as I usually do when my anxiety flares this badly.


God, I think, this better be worth it.


The woman who walked in a few minutes after I got here is annoyed. She interrogates the rest of us whether we are waiting for the confessional. We are. She huffs.


Now she is sitting behind me, muttering angrily about the length of our confessions.


I suppose I’ll have to confess typing away at a smartphone instead of examining my conscience. Well, fuck it. What’s another thing to add to the list?


I turn to the lady behind me to suggest she go before me for confession. Maybe then she will shut up, I mutter in my mind. She assures me no, it’s fine, then loudly whispers thank you and returns smiling to her rosary beads. At least she’s happy, now.


I guess I’ll have to add uncharitable thoughts to the list, too.


God, I’m not sure this is worth it.


“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light;

on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death,

light has arisen.”

Matthew 4:16

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