22 – Rome
“Raise the dead you say?” There was more than a trace of disbelief in Father Antonio’s voice. Honestly, I didn’t blame him. He hadn’t seen even a fraction of the crazy things that I’d seen.
I just nodded. He was either going to have to come to believe on his own… or not. If he didn’t, there was nothing that I could have said or done that would have changed his mind. So I waited.
I didn’t have long to wait.
Still, his response was less than encouraging. “How do you know?”
“How do you know that it can raise the dead?”
Because I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, I thought to myself. Although strictly speaking that wasn’t true. This little scrap of pottery may have been in the middle of quite a few complicated situations over the years–even more so just recently–but I guess it could just have been tangentially related. There could be some other core to the lot of it…
No. I didn’t really believe any of that.
But at this one moment, it didn’t really matter what I believed. What mattered was what Father Antonino believed. Or at least what I could convince him of.
“Really, I haven’t actually seen it in action. I’ve never caught it actually raising someone from the dead. But I have seen the aftermath.”
When he nodded for me to go on, I went into my own story. From Chicago a few weeks before, the last time I had been home in just as long. From Iraq far before that. I pulled out as much detail as I could, remembering little evens even that I’d thought lost to the sands of time, but in all likelihood just lost in the shuffle.
It felt good to get it out, to put it all out there in the open. The confession was supposed to have had a rather similar effect, but it didn’t seem to have worked. Perhaps it was due to the lack of penance. Perhaps I didn’t feel like I truly deserved forgiveness. But putting it all out there like this… it was a whole other form of confession.
What felt like hours, days later, I finished. I’d made it to the present day and Father Antonio knew enough to go from there. The rest was up to him.
For a long moment, he was silent. When he finally did reply, it was with the drawn out vowels of someone that didn’t quite know what to believe. “That’s … quite a story.”
“And every word of it is true.” I couldn’t actually guarantee that, there was always the chance that I was just misremembering. But at least I hadn’t intentionally lied nor omitted anything.
He just nodded, almost absently now. Abruptly, he reached out a hand towards me. “May I?”
I couldn’t think of any particular reason not to, so I handed the piece over. He took it, holding it almost gingerly in one hand. With the other, he ran a finger slowly along first one groove, than another, than another.
He seemed to be muttering something to himself, but if he was, his words were so faint that I couldn’t hear them over the sounds of the cafe and the surrounding city.