As a Roman Catholic I have the luxury – nay, necessity – of “Confession” (or, post-Vatican II: “Reconciliation” – we confess to be reconciled, so I guess there’s no difference). During this process, past “indiscretions” (aka, “sins”) are voiced aloud to a priest whom you may or may not know, and who may or may not know you. The idea is to wipe the slate clean: after the priest finishes the Absolution, all that you mentioned (as well as all you didn’t mention thru oversight – some of us have poor memories) is no more. As Christ told Saint Theresa, “I forgot.”
So, it’s all water under the bridge, forgiven and forgotten. Move on: tomorrow will present many new and different opportunities to land you right back into the little-bitty room with a veil between you and your alter Christus.
Trouble is, I can’t forget my “indiscretions.” I wish I could. I do feel forgiven – that part is true. But, despite my abysmal recall of most things, there is are a great number things that haunt me.
Take my first daughter. She’s nearing forty years old. I walked out on her and her mother when she was only 13. She’s never forgiven me. In fact, if anything, her hatred of me has only intensified. We live only about two hours apart (with traffic here in Puget Sound, could be three hours), yet we haven’t seen each other in over seven years (something Biblical about that? Maybe, but that is strictly a mathematical accounting.) No phone calls. Ever. The occasional email; and when I say “occasional” I mean once, or twice a year.
She is apparently alive and well: her Facebook page says she went to Standing Rock last month. After she received the check I sent her for her birthday. She has also posted her support of everyone who is not white or male or Christian (esp Catholic). Pretty funny how she and I both support the Stand with Standing Rock movement, yet we are so different otherwise. Dunno if that’s the “men” or the “mice” or the “mystery.” Also pretty funny that she went, but I have the t-shirt (no, really).
Last Christmas (dunno if she still calls it that), she sent a box of books that she no longer wanted. About half I read immediately (starting with Kurlansky’s story of the oyster and NYC); the other half are in the stack by my bed (which is about two feet high). Yeah: a care package. Go figure. She cashed that check, too. Never said thanks; but I guess good manners is a bridge too far?
I wonder what it feels like to have that much hatred? Jesus tells us to love our enemies, for even the pagans love their friends. I’m old enough to have compiled a long list of people who have rubbed me the wrong way, and for all I know, someone is out there gunning for me. But, I have no enemies; and like the tree that falls in the woods, it takes two to tango.
Two Christmases ago, my wife announced to those gathered around my sister’s dinner table that she was pregnant, but not to share the news: she wanted to be the one to tell the world. Okay, very personal information (is there anything more personal than being pregnant?), and she wanted to tell her own story. Silly me: how much more reasonable can you get? My sister posted the news on her Facebook page that night. My wife was devastated.
For the next fourteen months, we lived slightly more than half a mile apart. My sister’s job was only two blocks from our house. She never came by (yes, as in “never”). The Twin’s birth came and went (I got a text message). Their first Christmas came and went. My sister did send a birthday card for their First Birthday (by this time, we had moved: we were now about an hour away). My sister has never seen the Greatest Joy in my life. What’s that hate feel like?
Since I have been around the block a few times, and around the world a few times, too, I have seen a few things. While I am not the type of person that usually gets invited to parties, it is hard for me to imagine family members who rue the day they met me. To say nothing of non-family members.
The Twins are just 17 months old. Today, in fact. What do I teach them, and how do I do it?
I was able to spend a few minutes with them yesterday. As I played with them, watched them, I thought how wonderful children are. They are so purely children. They are always in character, always act in accord with their natures. That’s one part of my life. The other significant part are the adults I work with at the job (I hate) that pays the bills. Could the difference be any greater? Children always behave childlike. Adults sometimes act their ages, but sometimes act childish. Which is a shame: saying someone is childish is an insult to children.
What I will teach my kids is that there is a supreme being, which in my parlance I call “GOD.” He has a Son, with a real human name: Jesus Christ. Their love is called the Holy Spirit by some. I will teach them to be human (no person learns how to be an animal, all they need is permission for that), regardless of how many candles they put on their cake. They are not the center of anyone’s universe and someday life as they know it will end. You are a pilgrim on a journey while you breathe. Your destination is wholly dependent on how you live your journey because you decide what steps you take.
We are well into the First Week of Advent as I type this. The seasonal journey to the manger in the cave has begun. I pray for my daughter and my sister every day. I pray for my Twins and my wife. Today, as I pray the Rosary, I pray that the Luminous Mysteries will shed some light for them.