Forgive me, Father

“Hello?” My voice is clipped and un-echoy.


Oh gosh. He’s right there. On the other side of a wood-paneled wall is a priest waiting to hear me pour out my sins. I met him for the first time ten minutes ago.

I kneel down. “Okay, so, um, my sins, right…”

This is officially the most random week I have ever had.

For one thing, I got a job.

It’s a sales assistant position, basically that person on the street who chats you up and gets you to donate to a charity or sign up for a membership to, say, Sky or Virgin Media. It’s not glamorous but the staff environment attracted me. In the office, photos of private jets and drinks on a Malibu terrace cover the walls. Everyone dresses in suits and pencil skirts, with slicked-back hair and Coach purses.

But the company also takes pride in generating intrinsic motivation. You don’t earn by the hour, you earn by each sale you make. The more you earn, the more you climb the ‘corporate ladder.’ 100% performance-based. It’s a powerful incentive.

“It’s totally improved my work ethic,” one of the sales assistant said. She chugged her cappuccino and eyed the pedestrians on the street that she would soon solicit. “I never do anything half-heartedly anymore.”

At the company, you are in charge of your own success, you own salary. Forget clocking in hours – clock in the effort.

In the beginning, I was proud of myself for acing the two-stage interview, for quickly absorbing the company’s insight into marketing and passing the final evaluation. I had needed money so I found an opportunity and I conquered it.

But that evening, after leaving the office, I went home and stayed up late thinking:

Okay, so if I make 3 sales a day, it’s 20 pounds a sale so that’s 60 pounds a day, and say I work 2 days a week, which makes it 120 pounds a week, and I work 2 months which is no less than 6 weeks in total…at the least, I could make 720 pounds, but if I only make 2 sales a day…

The future has become as fragile as a bubble. And as a soon-to-be university graduate with currently no plan for what’s to come next, I already have enough uncertainty in my life.

So, Easter Sunday! I’m in a confession booth, saying to a priest, “I’ve been very money-hungry and really uncertain about the future, not trusting in God’s will, you know.”

Come tomorrow, I’m going to call the company and quit my job. I don’t want to be in charge of my own success, at least not in that way.

Ellie's Photo2

Later on, after confessions, my friend, Vinny, and I sit through the Catholic service, admiring the architecture and relishing the hymns. Then we disembark to Chapelfield Gardens where, for only the weekend, a fair has overtaken the park. Families bustle between food kiosks and miniature rollercoasters. The scent of cotton candy and rainwater mingle in the air.

“Let’s go on a ride!” Vinny says.

My weekend has already been so random. This might as well happen.

We climb into a booth and lower the bar across our chests. Soon, we’re hoisted into the air, dropped, wiggled, and spun. Vinny cheers and laughs. I scream Bloody Mary and bawl my eyes out.  Throw me onto the tallest horse in the world, swing me through a waterfall on a Tarzan rope, hand me Harry Potter’s broomstick and say, “fly, babe.” But buckle me down into a machine? No thank you. I dread cars, airplanes, ski lifts.

When Vinny and I get off the ride, my face is stained with tears. I wheeze and hiccup.

“Rachel, are you okay?” he laughs.

I bob my head and chortle. I did a presentation on crying one time and because of it, I have a newfound respect for tears. Crying is surrendering to a certain level of vulnerability. It’s a way of giving in to a bodily function and, through that, expressing and accepting that you are not in control. *

As my tears flow like a river, I recall what the priest told me, in the confession booth:

“Think of Mother Mary. From the virgin birth to Christ’s resurrection, she did not know what was going on. And yet, she still trusted in God’s will.”

Heavenly Father, Your will, Your way.


* Nelson, Judith Kay, Seeing Through Tears (New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2005)

Photo Credit (inline): Ellie Howell

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