Thursday, November 17, 2011

Confession ~ Creative Nonfiction

People tell me their confessions. For my entire life for as long as I can remember people reveal their sins to me to release their souls from the burden of having to carry the weight of their transgressions.  Strangers, friends, associates, whomever needed a confidante for reasons unknown preferred me over a priest.

Being the keeper of other people's dark secrets is a painful weight. I walk with the sins of others on my back.  I often wonder if their sins manifest as disease in my body? A conversation of confession today, tomorrow my illness flares up. What am I supposed to do with their immorality?  I have no place to dispose it, I must absorb it into my own existence. 

The conversations always start out the same way.  I sit, smile, nod along and the dialogue always drifts toward their wrongdoings. I imagine this is what a life review must feel like. Releasing your demons without fear of retribution. To list the heartache that you have given rise to yourself and others without the damnation of Hell looming.

To this day I have no idea why people choose me to bare their souls to. They just do. They all say the same thing, “You listen so well, I do not feel as if you're judging me at all”.  I think to myself the exact same thing every time, “Usually, at the moment you feel relief for not being judged is the actual moment you should be judged."  But I never say it aloud. I keep the reoccurring thought to myself.  As always I just smile, nod and say thank you for sharing.  It’s not as if I do not care what they are saying, it is that I am so numb to the experience that I think the lack of expression on my face becomes a comfort to them.

I am what you would call a spiritual person, whatever that may mean. My life has been one of personal study and practice of the spiritual arts. Spiritual arts...I like that phrasing. I like to think of the mystical path in that way. Spirit and art our about surrendering to the unknown. Sex, drugs and exercise are also but that's another conversation.

Surrendering is akin to gardening; you must till the soil, plant seeds if you ever want to see what may arise. You must “do the work”.

Habitually people think of the divine world as a gift given to the chosen, similar to the way we think of how a composer perceives music. That the score appears whole, magically complete pulled out of nirvana and all the composer has to do is jot it down for others to perform. That is not at all how it happens. You must surrender to the muse, plant the garden, care for the plants to see what blossoms. Only then does the sacred appear.

This is what I have learned: to be heard, that is all people seem to want. Seven billion people on the planet and we all spend a lifetime searching for someone to listen to us. We are not seeking advice, consolation or penance, just simply a human eardrum to accept the vibration of our voice. 

This is what I must do; listen. I tried to avoid sitting in the confessional, yet this is my place to be.

The notion of sitting with the dying keeps ruminating in my head. The idea that my listening may be of help in releasing them to the next world.

To acquire a knowledge of life I feel as if I must sit with death. A great deal of wisdom and compassion must be present at the end, so I hope.

I am the gardener to surrender.