Waiting outside can be agonizing. Thinking of what will be said inside, even more so. You rise from your seat and step towards the box, the open door inviting you into the darkness that has been waiting for you for days, months, or even years.
Walking into the seeming abyss, the box smells musty, and the corkboard covering the walls is evident to all your senses. The door closes behind you, and all light disappears, save for the pinholes of yellow light shining through the grille. The darkness is constricting, overwhelming. As you take your place on the kneeler, you can’t help but think, “Am I really going to find God in this darkness?”
It seems to go against all you’ve ever been taught. If God is light, how are you to find Him here, where it is so dark you can’t even see your own hand before your face?
Making the sign of the cross, you know He’s there. In this darkness, you have the freedom to lay bare your sins to the God who is Love Himself. As you do so, the darkness becomes less crushing. A weight lifts off your shoulders as you listen to the words of consolation coming through the grille. You feel the moment you’ve been waiting for approach, the solace for which you’ve been searching.
When the moment finally arrives, the relief is tangible. You hear those words, the words that you’ve been waiting to hear for longer than you know.
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
With these words, one single sentence, your soul has been wiped clean.
And in this crushing darkness that moments ago led you to wonder where you might find God, the light of God’s mercy pierces the veil of the grille and penetrates the depths of your soul. The mercy that comes from the light that “shines in the darkness,” and which “the darkness has not overcome” (John 1:5). The light who is Jesus Christ, the One who died upon the cross two thousand years ago, so that your sins may be forgiven today.