The cop’s flashers come on as soon as I pass him, and he pulls out to follow me. Immediately my mind and heart are racing.
Did he track me down for doing 85 mph on the Interstate Tuesday?
Will he arrest me for not speaking up when the clerk at Ingles charged me for regular turnips instead of organic?
Am I finally going to get busted for those clothes I shoplifted at the mall in 1976?
Yep, I’m guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty.
The easy excuse is that I’m Catholic. You are raised to believe that even an infant is guilty, thanks to Original Sin, and will be stuck in Limbo unless it is baptized. You start going to confession at age 7 because you must be cleansed of your sins before you can receive the Lord at Holy Communion.
I made up sins so that I had something to say in the confessional.
When I got older, like 13, I had plenty to confess. I actually did lie, steal and cheat. Then I stopped going to confession because I stopped believing in the power of the priest to absolve me.
I’ve surely broken all 10 commandments except for murder, and even then I have to confess to the broken bodies of mice and ants and mosquitoes at my feet. My cats didn’t fare too well either, not from abuse but from absorbing all my angst and depression like a sponge… but I still feel guilty for their demise.
What about those crowds of beggar kids in Kabul and Vietnam and Mali, the ones with the dirty clothes and skinny arms? Won’t I go to hell for not giving every single one of them money?
The list is endless.
Funny how I can so easily forget beautiful, happy, fun moments, and all the favors and good deeds I have done – but the guilt sticks with me.
I spent years trying to eradicate this guilty conscience, thinking it was somehow uncool and unliberated. Now I’m grateful.
Guilt is time’s way of reminding you that you’re not perfect. That a little forgiveness of others might be in order.
Oh, and the cop? He just wanted to let me know that my headlights weren’t on.
The penny for Day 101 is a 1980 with dark blotches on it. That year was the first time I got stopped by a cop, for speeding. I deserved it.