Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Surprised by Joy

I went to make my Lenten confession yesterday. Most people who don't make a regular confession find it a perplexing business when others do. So do I, if I'm honest: the process of dredging through the muck of my soul which I know God has already forgiven seems formalised and bizarre. I arrived at the Cathedral a bit early, having just come from another appointment, and sat in the car park with a mixture of trepidation and, frankly, indifference. Yet as I was waiting to go in - confessions are heard in the Lady Chapel and there's no pretence at anonymity, my confessor knows who I am and vice versa - I was absolutely overcome with an intense feeling of blessedness, grace, and connection, connection to God and to the people of our parish whose own sins and struggles I bear with me. My sins are being forgiven as I pronounce forgiveness for theirs. I had to wait quite a while and by the end of half an hour felt a lightness and calm which hardly ever finds me in day-to-day life. It's called joy, I think. What a wonderful privilege to be able to bring all the petty mess of human frailty to Jesus for his healing in these light, beautiful surroundings from which everything evil and mean seems banished, and how right it is that his forgiveness is mediated through another frail human being. 'Go in peace, and pray for me, a sinner too'.

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