The older three kids had their First Reconciliation Saturday. They were a little sulky and tired and grumpy until the actual time came to meet with the priest and then they were fine. It's hard to be scared of our Friars. After they came back to me, I realized I had not yet done Reconciliation either so I decided it was time. I was nervous too. Confession is an odd thing for my Protestant self. In my church, you were "born again" and that was it. Sins whipped clear. Of course it was complicated because being human I kept screwing up as humans do especially humans set with the impossible task of constant holiness. There was lots of guilt ridden nights, hiding under my covers, scared of the demons I was letting in through my sinful nature. There was also a profound lack of practice to release this guilt. Instead it festered into resentment.
But I figured it was only fair for me to confess as my children had done. I sat down opposite Friar Tom (he's my favorite even though Friar David is a very close second). I was holding Jude, and I clutched her tight. Friar Tom was who I talked to when I first found out about Jude. He had told me I was strong and good and that I would be okay. His words had carried me through that storm. But even so they were not enough to quell my doubts. I felt that I had lost my faith when the Dr. told me. And I don't think I even saw a glimmer of that faith until I looked into Jude's eyes and knew it was going to be okay. Saturday I looked at Friar Tom and saw the kindness that draws me to him, and only kindness. I don't doubt he's noticed my lack of attendance at Mass. I don't know feel comfortable when I don't know what I believe anymore. And plus I felt guilty. Guilty about the feelings I had about my beautiful child.
With tears just behind my eyes, I told him about how I felt like I lost my faith. How I felt so much pain and guilt over the feelings I had about Jude. How I didn't know how to rebuilt that faith. And he said "You don't see it but you are a great woman of faith. I see it." And then he talked to me some about how to rebuild my faith. He reminded that we all doubt and he said "If I could wave a wand and make all doubt go away, I'd do it for myself too." And the he said "Sometimes all we need to do for faith is to breath."
And so I'm breathing....slowly breathing in the smell of my daughter. The clean cold air of winter. The first stirrings of rebuilding so much that I let crumble. And I am also working on Friar Tom's parting words to forgive myself. When I walked back to the pews, I felt a lightness of being. I had let go off something heavy in that moment, given this heavy despair and doubt away. I had been absolved and I knew that when I feel again this sad weight, there is a place I can go.