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My van is disgusting


Speed Kingz | Shutterstock

Sarah Robsdottir - published on 06/21/17

And as I was giving it a cleaning with my leaf blower, I had a realization about my soul ...

Don’t get me wrong — I’m thankful for my definitely-not-sexy set of wheels. Daily, without complaining, she carts me and my many sons to the park, the library, soccer practice — you name it, she gets us there 15 minutes late; no questions asked. She’s faithful and dependable and it’s not her fault she smells like stale French fries and gym socks, because she’s filled to the brim with them. They’ve been accumulating — in spite of regular open side door “cleaning” sessions with my leaf blower — since the time she left the Ford assembly line, sometime before this century.

There’s an aqua toddler potty between the 3rd and 4th rows, clothes for every season and a good amount of low-quality wine fermenting in countless cast-off juice boxes. The second bench is actually not the worst place in the world to hide from one’s children. I must admit I find myself there now and again, marveling at the quiet, thinking: “I really could live here.”

The other day as I once again, leaf blower in hand, blasted enough fluorescent orange cracker crumbs onto the driveway to feed a small village, I was reflecting on Matthew Kelly’s image of hitting the confessional as often as he cleans out his car — about once a month.

In his book Rediscover Catholicism, Kelly talks about how good it feels to finally clean out one’s car but how in a matter of minutes a tossed straw wrapper, a cast-aside receipt … the debris adds up quickly.

“When you get your car washed,” he says, “you are sensitive to the things that make it dirty. In the same way, after you have been to confession you are sensitive to the things that stop you from being-the-best-version-of-yourself.”

Incidentally, the Church’s Youth Catechism, the YouCat, uses an automobile analogy as well in regard to confession, although its focus is on the vehicle’s speed, rather than its disgustingness:

“The reality of sin is often repressed. Some people even think that guilt feelings should be dealt with in a merely psychological way. But genuine guilt feelings are important. It is like driving an automobile: When the speedometer indicates that the speed limit has been exceeded, the speedometer is not responsible, but the driver is.”

While speed in the excess of 55 mph makes my stinky van rattle and shake like it’s about to clank apart piece by rusty piece on the highway, I appreciate the YouCat’s analogy as well as any nudge to make my way to the confessional.

And in regard to Kelly’s sentiment about sin accruing subtly like crumpled fast food bags tossed in the back of one’s vehicle … this guy’s never hitching a ride with me. His book is an inspiration — a definite must-read — but he’s unintentionally made me compare the cleanliness of my mom-mobile to the state of my soul … and whew, I’m in serious trouble.

Want to know more about confession, or need a little push to approach this sacrament? This selection of Aleteia articles might  help:

10 Tips from priests for a better Confession

I know we encounter Christ in confession, but I wasn’t expecting THIS!

7 Tips for a good confession, from a saint and spiritual guide, St. Francis de Sales

I have a problem with Confession

and finally:

The 3-step outline for doing an Examination of Conscience

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