Sunday, Again at The Nervous Breakdown

commission_meadows_1I am beyond thrilled to share my newest essay, Sunday, Again now up at The Nervous Breakdown. The essay features fantastic artwork from the super-talented, Trinidad Escobar. Her art will amaze you and her graphic memoir, Crush, is coming out in 2017, so check it out.

I started writing this essay in 2012, and it has undergone several permutations, revisions, etc. I hacked it up, cut it up, and almost gave up. So, I must say special thanks to Chelsey Clammer nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. She believed in me and this essay. Without all her smart editing, my essay would still be the unpublishable two-headed monster it was before it hit her inbox.

Here’s a bit from Sunday, Again:

My CCD teacher put it this way: a soul is like a chalkboard that begins clean and gets filthier with each sin. The gravity of the sin determined the size of the mark. She pockmarked a chalkboard with dots and circles. If we confessed our sins and were truly sorry, we would receive God’s Grace, our sins would be forgiven, and our souls would be cleansed. She erased the chalkboard. Only then, she said, would our souls be prepared for receiving the Eucharist, the transformed bread and wine we believed to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

I knelt and made the sign of the cross.

“What have you sinned, my child?” Father Michael’s disembodied voice was soft and encouraging through the thin partition separating us.

Supposedly, I could confess anything to Father Michael and he would tell no one, not even my parents. He was a man of God to be trusted with all things. This was the priest who would administer each of my sacraments—my first confession, my first communion, my confirmation, my wedding, and maybe even my last rites. I imagined us in a long sequence of photographs, he, smiling in green robes, standing next to a more buxom and beautiful me in successively more elaborate white dresses.

I cleared my throat and pressed my palms together.

“Sometimes, I steal the remote control from my brother and change the channel when he’s watching something.” I was in second grade—changing the channel mid-cartoon seemed a sin-worthy of confession.commission_meadows_3

“What else?”

I thought hard.

“Sometimes I’m mean.”

“Anything else?”

There was something I should tell him, but I fidgeted, and said nothing.

Together we said the Act of Contrition, which I had memorized, though a copy was laminated and taped to the wall of the confessional. He handed out an arbitrary penance: three Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys. I made the sign of the cross and left the confessional to kneel in a pew. This was the time, my teacher said, to reflect on my sins, to think about what I had done and why I shouldn’t do it again. I prayed quickly, imagined for a moment trumpeting angels descending to touch my shoulder, a dove to kiss my cheek, thinking: forgiveness was easy.

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  • © 2018 Jen Palmares Meadows

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