256 Words

Bless Me Father

M. Stanley Bubien

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned."

I heard the words and resisted the temptation to slide the screen shut. Without noticing, my confessor continued to speak. Head drooping, I listened to his whispers. He spoke of lustful thoughts and infidelity---things that should be whispered.

I pushed against the arms of my chair, holding myself up.

Sometimes the parishioners would come in and feed me falsehoods. Noncommittal sins like lying, or swearing, or being angry---things children confess when they don't know what else to say. Which were harder to hear? Those made-up sins? Or the real ones? Ones like my confessor struggled through now? Choices he made; choices that hurt him and hurt his family.

And hurt me.

I instructed him in his indulgence, which he received in silence. My shoulders ached as I forced my hands through the sign of the cross.

Steps echoing into the sanctuary, he went to perform his penance. Presently, echoes resounded again in his departure.

My knees popped as I stood to leave the confessional. Hand on my lower back, I hobbled to the front pew.

The kneeler bent from the burden I placed on it---my weight, and the weight on my shoulders. I heaved a thick breath. So many sins---real and false---they crushed me like I crushed the kneeler. I only had strength to raise my eyes, but I met those of my savior upon the cross. Holding his gaze, I spoke a word of thanks that I did not bear these burdens alone.

Copyright ©1996 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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July, 1996
Issue #4

256 Words