For weeks we talked about…
Her first Confession.
I’ve been blessed with the most enthusiastic bunch of penitents…all of my children have approached the sacrament with such excitement, such trust…and most of them continue to frequent the confessional with regularity…one of them every week.
But this little one…my youngest girlie…was quite nervous.
I’d not been able to get her to share her fears, but continued to encourage and instruct her. She’d been briefly quizzed by Father months prior. She’d seen the inside of the confessional and had been reciting the Act of Contrition since the age of five. On the surface, she was ready. But underneath…uncertain.
We talked of mercy. I tried to use language that she would really understand. We talked about how much she dislikes the shower. Or at least having to get ready to take one. Gathering her pjs, her towel, making sure the water is the right temperature…it sure seems like a lot of work. But once she’s in there, it feels pretty good. And once she’s dried off and snugly wrapped in her favorite jammies…peace, comfort and sleep all come quickly. I told her as she gets older, she’ll not dread a shower so very much, and even long for it.
Confession is pretty much the same, when we’re properly disposed and prepared.
Last week she said she’d like to make her First Confession this week. We knew she was ready and her father and I were thrilled that she was making the move on her own, not through coercion. But then the past week was so full of meetings, events, school and day to day stress…well…mom didn’t really mention the fact that Sunday was nearly upon us, nor did I purchase the traditional lily that she would plant as a reminder of her special day.
So this morning, as we traveled toward Church, I’d mentioned to her father that I’d not purchased the lily, nor had I really said much to her this week about her confession. “It’s just as well,” I said. “She’s been so skittish. I really don’t want to push her. She’s still only seven. And she hasn’t mentioned it. We’ll wait. Perhaps next week. Or on the Feast of the Divine Mercy…”
Twenty minutes before Mass was to begin, we entered our pew. Abigail was already in line for Confession, and the line was quite long. There were at least seven people ahead of her. I wondered if she’d have time. Rylee and I knelt together. All of a sudden, she stood. “I think I’ll go make my confession now, ” she said. Surprised, I glanced at the line of people.
“Sweetheart…I don’t think you’ll have time. There’s quite a long line of people…” I said apologetically.
She looked stricken.
Quickly, I said: “Hurry! Go back there…if it’s meant to happen you’ll have time!” She smile, genuflected and rushed to the back of the sanctuary. Oh, such joy and nervousness…for both of us! I made my way to the back of the church and approached Abigail, now fourth in line. I pointed at Rylee…Abigail smiled and quickly changed places with her. I left the sanctuary, and stood just outside the door, to see if I could snap a quick photo of Rylee as she exited the Confessional.
The red light went out. Click. The door opened and a little girl with a beatific smile exited that little, dark room. It happened so quickly…the photo blurred…or perhaps it was my vision. My baby…my last little one made her First Confession…
In her own time.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit and not a schedule.
Back in the pew she knelt and said her penance…and smiled with great joy as Abigail returned, having just returned from the confessional herself…she gave up her spot and still made it in the knick of time!
This week, we’ll pick out a perfect lily. In the garden, beside our Blessed Mother, it will bloom, year after year…a reminder of purity, innocence and grace.