This is my Camino. Welcome.

Be Brave. Life is joyous.

The title amuses me. I wrote that as my Facebook status and received a bunch of “likes.” Then I went to confession and this happened. It clashes so strongly, eh?

I was in the confessional, literally. And I told the priest it had been one week since my last confession, and his eyebrows shot up.

Most of the time, people can keep straight longer than a week, apparently.

I confessed that yesterday I lost patience with my family, lots of members of my family, in the worst way: impatience, snippy words, anger meeting their kindness. I told him it was because I was coming from a meeting with a friend, and that’s what riled me up and that’s what I took out on my family.

And he, so patient of a man who I know is struggling with his own internal battles, said to me, “Why didn’t you address the friend?” And he assigned me to speak the truth to this friend as a penance.

And then, because I am awesome, I started crying in the confessional in front of this priest. God bless him, he was like, “It looks like you’re still dealing with a lot of emotions,” which is excellent therapist-talk, I must say.

(Silver lining to this cloud: the delicately-folded Kleenex in the pocket of my hand-me-down vest. Dear previous owner, you just saved my pride.)

Then I left the confessional and walked to the river because I needed time and sunshine. On the riverbank where I walk there is a statue of a group of people looking at Canada. The statue honors the men, women, and children who crossed the Detroit River from slavery in the United States to freedom in Canada.

Monument honoring those who participated with Detroit’s Underground Railroad. Original photo.

And I felt the still voice say to my heart, “Will you be the one who speaks truth and brings freedom or no?”

So then I cried again, because it’s hard to say things that might cause conflict to people you care about.

I sat on the concrete steps and turned my face to the sun. (Then I realized that the concrete might pull my nylons and I shifted position a bit. Nylons are finicky.)

Once, when I was just out of high school, I visited Auschwitz.
It was a harrowing experience.
There are many things I could say, but the one that I thought about today was this: the Nazis kept storehouses of supplies and clothing out of reach of the prisoners. The prisoners referred to these storehouses as “Canada,” everything they needed.

In some way, to both the prisoners at Auschwitz and those finishing the Underground Railroad, Canada represented freedom.

Here I was, then.
I believe that the truth will set us free. It is a part of my faith. How, then, do I bring truth, even when it seems so hard?
How do I bring myself to a place where I can say the hard things, the challenging things, the stretching things?

But, look at my choices.
Do I want to get to Canada or not?
Do I want to have peace in my heart or no?
To attain that freedom, I must speak truth.

That’s kind of profound.
Here’s what I told the priest, though: “I’m still scared.”
And he smiled and said that that was OK.

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