My mahogany hues have darkened gracefully over the years, suffusing my surface with a lustrous glow. The myriad colors of the stained-glass work reflect off me, creating a magical and awe-inspiring aura. I have been a mute witness to the darkest deeds of mankind. Years? Decades? Centuries? I have lost count of time, but I can vouch for the fact that the nature of the confessions that I have heard have not changed much.
I am sworn to secrecy. I should not be saying this, but I must admit that my heart is heavy. I am built to listen without judgment. Yet my heart overflows with an anguish that I cannot put into words. I am resigned to the fact that my penitents will continue to inflict pain and hate each other with a vengeance; even the ones they claim to love deeply.
Deep within my dark interiors, my master stays cocooned, listening, forgiving, accepting, and non-judgmental. He lends a soothing word and offers a penance that redeems the penitent and restores their faith in themselves. Yet, the holy men of God who mediate between the sinner and the creator have many a time destroyed my own faith. I cannot deny that I have seen quite a few who listen to seek favours. They do not hesitate to use the powers that repose in them to demand a touch, a graze, an interlude of forbidden pleasure, in return for the haloed grace they are chosen to deliver.
All that I am privy to still leaves me shocked. I know of the ugly and zealously guarded truths about inexplicable deaths, kidnappings, disappearances, murders, espionage, rape, destruction, looting, cheating, and violence to name a few. A whisper here and a tear there is all I need to discern if the penitents are genuinely repentant or simply seeking to unburden their way to salvation before they embark on their next mission of self-interest.
I often wonder if I have a more fortunate sibling somewhere who is a confidant of human kindness. How wonderful it would have been to receive my guests and hear about their kindnesses, their simple joys, and the love that lights up their lives. My heart, which now yearns for catharsis, would have danced in joyous abandon, looking forward with eagerness to what each day brought instead of dreading the dawn. Wishful thinking!
I was born of a sturdy block of teak wood. It is not just the chop of an axe that can break someone. It is the gory tales that I have heard that have darkened my lines. Perhaps the emotions of my human guests unknowingly seeped into me, a little at a time? Relentless and unforgiving? I must return to the earth. Eternal sleep beckons me. Dust unto dust.
I have failed. I let human emotions overpower me. I judged and despised them for their deeds. I spoke about them when I was sworn to silence.
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
Photo credit – Annie Williams, Unsplash