Confession Can Be Bad For The Soul
LC Van Savage
Dear Pastor of St. Mary’s Church: You don’t know me, but I must speak with you about something. You know how it is when you get older and look back over your life and clench at the memories of the bad things you’ve done? Well, maybe you don’t because perhaps you’re too young to be going down that path just yet. But you are an Episcopal minister and I do know that in Episcopalian bootcamp you had to have been trained about that granting forgiveness business, and all those other religious, spiritual and Golden Rule deals, right? So please read my story and then I’d appreciate it if you’d bring all those things to the fore---mine.
When I was six years old in 1944, my father and I attended your church faithfully every Sunday; 8 AM mass. I wasn’t keen on being there at that ungodly (sorry) hour, but it meant he could get to the golf course by 9:30. He loved your St. Mary’s dearly. That white Italian marble font at the back used in baptisms was given to your church by him after it burned down in 1950- something. It’s a fact; you could look it up. But in truth, I suspect Pop did that less to show his great benevolence than to maybe grease his way to eternal bliss, but whatever. And I only bring up this little memory now with hopes that it’ll make you go easy on me.
Anyway, the old man handed me a very shiny new quarter to drop into the collection plate at Sunday School one summer Sunday back in ‘44, which I did. Oh it was just so shiny and I was loathe to give it up. So I didn’t. After Sunday School was over I carefully looked around to make sure the coast was clear, and sneaked back up to the altar, filched the coin back, dropped it into my shoe and strolled casually out into the sunshine.
I want to repay it. I’ve checked, and my accountant advises me that the quarter I stole back then is now worth $2.6l. I enclose a check for that amount and hope this matter is closed forever and that my conscience may now be clear. Yours most sincerely, LC Van Savage.
Dear LC Van Savage: Thank you most kindly for your check and heartfelt confession. I hope you feel cleansed. Alas, I cannot accept your check for $2.61 and so am returning it forthwith. The amount is incorrect. I have checked with our church’s accountant and regret to inform you that it appears you owe us a great deal more.
That shiny 1944 quarter was probably an Eagle, and silver, so it’s worth a lot more today, but we’ll pass on that. What we are thinking about is the average return on our investments (ROI) and because we’ve been very careful here at St. Mary’s, we calculate our ROI has been 25% over these past sixty years. So it appears the quarter you pinched back from us has deprived our parish of $1,631,133. Yes, those commas are all in the right places.
We are delighted and thankful to receive this joyful news. The foundation at St. Mary’s must be completely replaced and the bell quite unexpectedly fell from the belfry last month narrowly missing old Emma Breadwell as she sat on a stone bench in our graveyard mourning her husband Everett who died while running demon rum in ’32. (Yes, our dear Emma has a hard time letting go.) Thus, you can see this windfall couldn’t have come at a more propitious time.
So there you have it. We still like the font very much. It’s been used steadily all these years and we’ll certainly remember your father in our prayers.
We’ll happily accept your immediate payment. Will that be cash, check, charge… or hell?
In gratitude, Pastor Abigail Smythe