Friday, March 7, 2008
In the Confessional
I discovered early on -- perhaps at age seven or eight --
that I could invent any sins I wanted and assign to them
what seemed like an appropriate number of times committed.
The final sin, at each monthly visit to the terrifying
little closed-door closet with the sliding window,
being the sin of The Fabrication of Sins. It seemed
the logical way of saying a Good Confession,
then fixing it all in the end: make it up,
end with the sin of a lie, say your pennance
and then: Bingo! Forgiven.
What truly confounded me was how one was supposed
to keep a running tally of each sin, and how many times
the evil deed had been committed. No one ever suggested
a Sin Notebook, small enough to carry in one's pocket.
(Not that I would've even for a second ever considered one.)
I had learned, however, the notion of rounding up (and down),
and so with the mathematic skills of a budding poet
I assigned each sin its likely number:
1) talking-back to mother: 11 times
2) fighting with sisters: 7 times
3) disobedience: 4 times
(I never went higher than the number 12,
and I don't know why, except that twelve -- a dozen --
was a very amiable number. Friendly, even. What priest,
upon listening to a child's solemn confession,
could question this perfect tally of misdeeds?)
These are the only sins I can recall. I can say for certain
that I never Coveted My Neighbor's Wife, I never Murdered,
and I never Committed Adultery. I had no choice but to Keep
the Sabbath Holy. And as for False Gods, I worshipped without
any guilt whatsoever:
1) all horses
2) the woods beyond my back yard
3) our apple trees
4) the falling-down barn we abandoned upon the death of my father.
These were my False Gods, I suppose, but they were damn good ones
and I've never regretted my true and absolute love and worship
of each and every one. Oh, Jesus! Yes.