Yesterday I had my first “real” confession in two years.
I love confession. For those of us brought up Catholic, the word conveys a sense of either beating up oneself, or getting beaten up by the priest; for those of us who were raised Protestant, the word smacks of “papism,” something Those Catholics do, and therefore to be shunned. But Orthodox confession is a true gift, a time of taking inventory and assessing where one is or is not on track, and if off-track, how to get back on.
To the despair of certain members of my family (you know who you are), my earthly life is governed by a set of 5 x 8 pages, also known as a Franklin Planner. I don’t use this tool as well as I could or should, mostly because I spend so much time on other pursuits, such as my current and concurrent projects of learning Russian and entering the Triodion into my computer in a format that will allow me to take it with me wherever I go, like on early-morning walks around the Common in the middle of our town. Why just say prayers when you can pray with the birds?
Anyway, one of the components of the Franklin Planner is the development of a “personal mission statement,” something that allows you to define your purpose on earth. Mine has been clear for some time: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Recent events in my life have shown, and confession has confirmed, that not only have I gone off track on this mission statement, I have been altogether derailed. (A little RR terminology for my railroader son…) But hey — derailments happen all the time, right? So you roll up your sleeves, get out whatever equipment they use on the railroad to set trains aright, and get that puppy back on track and under steam.
Under steam I am not, yet. But definitely back on track, with a clearer vision of how to implement this mission statement, now that the “grime” around my particular light has been cleansed in confession. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” And keep after it, so that when, not if, it starts to dim, I’ll catch it before it gets too grimy to be seen. “Let your light so shine before men….”
I love confession.