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Remember that scene in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie looks out the window on Christmas morning? He’s greeted with a snow-cloaked, icicled fairyland. Indiana winter has transformed his oft-seen backyard into something new and magical. That’s what it looks like outside my window right now. I wouldn’t recommend going out in it, but there it is. The streets, where you can see them, are empty, silent. We have retreated to our 21st century igloos, there to sip soup and watch our day planners empty courtesy of snow day cancellations.

There’s something so beautiful, so pristine about new-fallen snow. It makes me wish my soul looked that way — peaceful, pure, undisturbed by my moral journey. Wishing won’t make it so, however. Just as the snow will eventually become trampled, muddy, slushy, plowed into dirty piles and shoveled into ugly lumps, so do our souls wear ever thinner with use. There’s no way around it. Just as there’s no way to preserve the pristine snow other than staying indoors, looking but not touching, there is no way to preserve the innocence of our souls other than by not engaging in life at all. You go out of the house and into the world, you’re gonna get grimy. It’s the human condition.

Which brings us to the much-beloved sacrament of Reconciliation. Some call it Penance or Confession. Same rose, different name. I confess; I love this sacrament. There is nothing so fortifying, so soothing to heart and soul than forgiveness. To be forgiven of one’s sins may not restore one’s soul to a newborn’s tabula rasa, but it does, absolutely, make everything better. When Pope (the poet, not the pontiff) said, “to err is human, to forgive divine,” he wasn’t kidding. That washed-clean feeling is as near to heaven as I’ve ever felt on Earth.

Unfortunately, our church’s Lenten Penance Service was cancelled due to the current Snowpocalypse. I miss it. I miss that feeling of coming clean, of becoming, for a moment, like new snow. I can hardly wait for it to be rescheduled. My well-trammeled soul will be renewed. I expect a new car scent to waft off me like cologne.

Do me a favor: Forgive someone today. Maybe it will be that snarky girl in high school who made fun of your figure. Maybe it will be a more recent hurt — a snub from a friend or a rude driver. Just do it. They may never know it, but you will have given them the greatest gift that you can give. And if I’ve ever wronged you, please forgive me. Today, envying the snow, I need it.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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