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  • Writer's pictureJeff Conway

Confession: Not Just A One-off

“To confess your sins to God is not to tell God anything God doesn’t already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the bridge.” - Frederick Buechner

I must confess I do not know how to spell my last name; at least its original iteration. It could be the simple Conwy or the more unique, Cam Yea, which is found in early Welsh forms. Conway is a blended name with Welsh, Scots, and Irish heritage. There were various Anglicized spellings—O’Connmhaigh, MacConmidhe, or MacConnmaigh—which make it very easy to pronounce, right? My father’s sister has traced our family to County Mayo in Ireland where my surname was spelled, Conbhuidhe. Finally, something simple (eye roll).

At least the meaning is aristocratic, “Hound of the Plain.” Or, at least I thought it sounded noble, like Heathcliff standing overlooking the moors with his hound at his side, the camera slightly tilted up to display his dignity. But a deeper examination reveals a more clear definition: Scavenger Dog. Hmm. So much for a claim to any Crown Jewels.

I may not have a hereditary link to Irish nobility but that does not hamper my love and wonder for the Emerald Isle. I have followed its beckoning call a number of times but I have not ever experienced my podcast friend Debs’ desire to swim my way along shore in the North Atlantic Sea. Does she soberly believe that she is not submerged in a tub of ice?

Though I may be challenged to discover the spelling of my last name I must confess I relish the notion of what life was like for my Celtic forebears living on the rocky northwest coast of Ireland. I may not know their individual stories of survival, love, pain, and joy, but I am thankful for their journey that led to mine. And I may not know the definitive spelling of my surname but I definitely know who I am and whose I am: a dearly loved child of God. And oh, do I want to journey sweetly with our God.

In our last podcast, Debs mentioned how she connects with God through silent listening and making space to hear God. Both she and Joe talked about the importance of God’s creation, celebrating the world we have been given to abide and journey on. Joe also shared that he uses his rosary in nature to almost unknowingly keep him reminded that he is walking with God.

I think what struck both Susan and I the most was to hear Joe talk about the importance of the “Sacrament of Reconciliation” as a regular part of his spiritual practice. It is so great to learn new things; just like Susan, I had never heard going to confession in the Roman Catholic tradition called that before. I had always heard about it from former Roman Catholics as an empty exercise of trying to list off their sins to get it over with—I lied; I drove too fast; I kicked my dog, etc.—but Joe brought to us such a beautiful image of confession being reconciliation with God.

In our next podcast, Susan and I will share about our own journey of understanding the importance of confession. Not just the beginning confession of faith but our need to continually walk humbly in confession with God so that we can transform into people who are healed by God and who journey as God desires for each of us to journey.

And, as all journeys come to an end, our next topic starting this fall will be “Death.” We are beginning to prepare for those discussions and interviews, but in the meantime, I have encouraged Susan to write a post about it in the coming weeks, so you will be seeing that soon.

Until next time, live well.

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About Jeff


I've always been a fish out of water (and I love fish). From being an artist in a sports family, to a Christian who leans into the mystery of God while still trained in a Word-centered mainline tradition, and now a person in a wheelchair amongst able-bodied hikers, my life has perpetually been outside the box (or bowl). 

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