It was no new idea. We read about it in Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz. James was the one with the idea of trying it in Salem over the weeks of Halloween events, and I thought it would work well, but we had no idea how well.
James bought a few monks robes. We had the tents and tables. James and Brooke brought some candles and incense. We made signs, "Free Confessional Booth."
At first people walked by and laughed. Occasionally someone would say nervously, "I don't have the time. It would take all day."
Then a few people began to trickle into the tent, and sit for a confession. They would walk out with big eyes, and occasionally some tears. Things began to gain some momentum when some of my friends who run a Psychic Faire decided to give it a try.
"What do you do in there?"
"Confessions." Jeff said frankly with a twist of wry. Jeff does wry well.
"But what happens in there?"
"I can't tell you. You will have to experience it for yourself." Jeff said, and after a pause, "But it's not what you expect."
"What do you mean?"
"I can't tell you. Are you up for giving it a try?" Jeff asked with that wry smirk sneaking out from the corner of his mouth again.
They entered the tent as a group. Three sat together in support of one another. Witches entering a Christian confessional booth need backup. Who knows what gallows, or stake piled high with dry faggots hides behind the tent?
James spoke first, "Thank you for joining us in the confession booth. I'm sure you nervously entered expecting to share your deepest, darkest secrets, but here we are offering another kind of confession. We want to confess on behalf of the church."
This was the beginning of a deeply moving time for my friends the Witches. I found them half and hour later standing in front of the confessional booth with tears still streaming down their faces.
"This is the most moving spiritual experience I've ever had," she said dragging long on her cigarette.
"I have been waiting for so many years to hear something like this. This is the high point of my Samhain this year." His makeup was running as he continued to cry.
James and the other monks confessed the sins of the church over the ages to my Witch friends. He apologized for the Burning Times, the Inquisitions, and the Witchtrials in Salem. He apologized for the Crusades. He apologized for the prejudice and fear in the church which has caused people to treat the Witches with anger, and personal attacks. James confessed for being part of church which imposed its morality upon the Witches, even though they made no decision to follow Jesus.
Later that day other Witches began to come through the tent. An entire Psychic Fair of Readers and Seers went through the tent. Witches from shops around town heard the rumors circulating about the confessional booth, and came to visit. The tears were many, and the hearts of people generally antagonistic to Christianity were endeared to us.
Toward the end of the day a Tarot Reader brought one of her clients into the tent because, "she needed to hear this."
We are one big sorry church, and that has been our strength.
Even as this post was in my mind, and not yet on paper Sally made comment to the same subject on the comments section of her blog.