‘You haven’t been to confession for more than 20 years?’
‘You haven’t been to confession since Confirmation?’
We’re in a small room of a rather big unattached house with its own orchard, trampoline and large parking lot. The trampoline is to jump closer to God or as the attribute to take cheeky wedding pictures. At least three priests are staying in this house. The one I’m talking to is the one that looks like an axe wielding Viking with spectacles.
He stares at me in disbelief.
‘Are you sure you haven’t been to confession? Not even here in Slovakia some time?’
Hmmm. Let me think. I do happen to have different moods here in Slovakia. Did I ever stumble into a Church to confess and then forget about it? No. Did I ever call the Confession hotline on a drunk Thursday night swamped with slivovica? No. Was I ever held at gunpoint and shoved into a Confession booth? No. Until now that has never happened to me.
The priest explains that going to Confession is like taking vitamins. Preventive medicine for the soul.
The time comes for me to lay my sins on the couch. We are sitting next to each other, but with a small improvised barrier between us. He’s on one couch, I’m on the other. The couches are put next to each other, so there’s some small wall between us.
I start looking for sins, but my mind goes blank. What qualifies as a sin? If I remember correctly pretty much anything. I can’t find anything spectacular. In fact, I can’t find anything. I could confess I feel like I have not sinned, and that would be a sin in itself. Therefore I would have sinned and he could absolve me. Done! No, wait, wait, there must be something.
Why not just use this moment as free therapy?
So there I go into the dark reaches of the soul.
‘I think I mainly deal with Envy’.
Envy. Capital E. It’s been a bitch, so it deserves its capital letter.
‘We all deal with that sometimes’
Aha, I suddenly feel like I should have been more specific. I’m talking about Hitler rolling over the ground tearing at the carpet with his teeth kind of Envy. I’m talking about Envy that gives you an actual bitter taste in your mouth and very real chest pains. I’m talking about the kind of Envy that topples empires. Ow boy, I’m even competitive about levels of Envy.
I add that it often leads me to suicidal thoughts.
The priest talks about a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
‘You can stroll around in a desert and think: what’s the point of going on? But then you have to realize you’re not a coward and you just move on’.
With this sentence he implies both my father and grandfather were cowards. I like the guy, a priest with long hair gets lots of credit in my book, but we’re on thin ice somewhere between Slovakia and Walhalla.
He also adds that life is short and beautiful.
When in the worst fits of Envy it is in fact a great comfort to me that life is only a prison sentence of an other mere 50 years or so.
He reminds me that I have a beautiful wife beside me now. I sort of think my wife could be his type, because he tells me on several occasions that she is really pretty.
In the end he holds his hand above my head and I’m cleansed of my sins.