Friday, July 20, 2012


It's an interesting word - metanoia.  I've heard it defined as a spiritual turning of sorts.  Wikipedia offers several possible meanings.  Mirriam-Webster defines it as "a transformative change of heart."  It's what we are called to do.  On an ongoing basis, I think.

It has been a long summer in some ways.  Lots - did you hear me LOTS - of family togetherness.  Can you have too much?  My boys have not participated in any extra activities this summer (their choice), my husband has worked very little (not his choice), and with limited funds, I have mostly kept the car parked.

I have also resented it.  With my husband's anxiety, he has made it known that he likes it best when everyone is home.  So I have gone with the flow.  By default, he has had things the way he has wanted them in that respect, but he doesn't seem much happier.  And for me...."Absence makes the heart grow fonder?"  There hasn't been near enough absence, I assure you!

By the end of last week, I could feel a weight somewhere inside.  It was really nothing anyone had done, but I knew a bunch of feelings were brewing below the surface.  (Side note to interject that the seemingly unrelated pictures were taken last night as a storm gathered. The reddish tint made things look really weird).  I finally found some time to visit Jesus at the little Adoration chapel near the house Sunday evening.  I took my journal and I wrote... Peeled back some of the layers to see what was below the surface.

I was able to return again on Monday and as I sat, I asked Jesus, "If I were to go to confession soon, what would I tell you?"  Well, I don't know about you, but He is always pretty accommodating in answering that question for me!  Again I wrote.  And there was The List.

I almost always prefer to show up for confession within the scheduled time frames, but this time, I knew I wanted more than my share of the 10 minutes allotted before daily Mass.  So, needing wisdom, I emailed my  confessor and asked if he had time after Mass one day soon. "... See you tomorrow," he replied.  

I began by saying that I didn't mean for this to be a complaint session about current issues, and he uncharacteristically stopped me.  "When there are issues - and there are - don't apologize for being honest with God.  We are not doing this to be slanderous, but to give the issues to Jesus."   I continued.  There was stuff.  Sin is icky.  Attitudes and thoughts and feelings which I will spare you.  Discouragement and doubt in spite of God's goodness.  Tiredness.  

He listens.  Really listens.  He hears where I am at - not just the sin list.  He speaks.  Little by little, he turns things just a bit.  What he says really does nothing to change the situation I am dealing with.  But what he says changes the way I view (and respond to) the situation I am dealing with.  He pulls forth a little compassion that has been dormant for far too long.  Not by chastising, but by pointing the way.  Slowly, gently, chipping away at some of the hardness of heart.  

Sometimes it seems that everything I do has a cost - the disapproving look or thoughtless rude comment.  The good priest does nothing to change that fact, but acknowledges that it is probably true.  To be a follower of Jesus, we do have to share in His Life - in the Paschal Mystery.  And here is my chance!  Not only does it have a cost, but I can take that and offer it back to God on behalf of and to benefit the other.  That's about the best economic news I've heard in a while.  Nothing is wasted!  

Twenty or so minutes later we are done.  I leave, not embarrassed or ashamed, but filled with hope and encouragement.  This may forever be one of the mysteries that I don't understand.  How one can [nervously] walk into a little room in the back of the church, sit and admit to another human the worst of who you can be, and then float out hope-filled and encouraged mere minutes later.  But it happens - often.  God's good grace is simply amazing!

Just a little different way of looking at things, and everything seems to change.  Metanoia?  A transformative change of heart?  Correction?  Healing? Embracing thoughts beyond our present limitations?   All of the above?  God is so very good!


  1. Beautiful Karen. The gift of the sacrament of confession. I experienced it this week too - a "dumping session" about a difficult part of myself and I left feeling joy. God is so good.

  2. How great is it that you feel comfortable enough with your priest to be so brutally honest and know that he will listen and not judge?