lenten journal: confession stand


In my newsletter this week, I wrote about Caitlin Clark, the point guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes who are playing tonight for a spot in the National Championship Game on Sunday. In describing her prowess, I said,

She is known for her shooting ability, particularly her three-pointers that she can drop from the confession stands on the upper deck of the arena.

The typo is obvious: I meant concession stand instead of confession.

I make errors on a regular basis–and not just on the blog–but a similar one that came to mind when I saw my mistake was this poem where I wrote,

would that we had a ladder to
make a consolation of ourselves

when what I meant was a constellation. After some thought, consolation seemed less of a mistake than I had imagined. We would do well to make a consolation of ourselves.

My life in church has been spent in Protestant houses of worship, so confessionals are not a part of my experience, but we normally have a prayer of confession during our services that we say in unison. My etymological dictionary tells me that the Latin roots of the word confess break down into con (together) and fateri (to admit): to admit together–which is what we do on Sunday mornings, but I’m not sure what that looks like on the upper deck of a basketball arena, much less what a confession stand might look like.

The point of confession is not to tell God something God does not already know. I had a friend in Dallas who said the maddest she ever saw her priest was when she, as a college student, went to Confession one Saturday afternoon and asked if she could confess what she knew she was going to do later and get it over with. It doesn’t work that way either. God is not keeping score. The power in confession is in coming clean to ourselves and to one another in the presence of God and reminding ourselves that God’s love and forgiveness aren’t riding on whether we left something out.

But I digress. I didn’t mean for this to become a mini sermon. Back to the confession stands.

I picture tables with folks standing around sharing stories, which means they would still need to serve food–hot dogs, for sure–since eating together opens our hearts to vulnerability. I’m not sure what would be served at a confession stand, but it wouldn’t all be about what we had done wrong. We confess more than our sins. We confess what matters to us, what moves us, what we are willing to go the wall for, what kind of long shot we are willing to take.

Come to think of it, this might be another way we make a consolation of ourselves.



  1. I loved that typo the minute I saw it and I’m so glad you explored it further. A confession stand is a good idea, especially that “We confess what matters to us, what moves us, what we are willing to go the wall for, what kind of long shot we are willing to take.”

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