The wind and the rain slap against his cheeks, assaulting him as he approaches the church of Saint Catherine in Brussels. His only defence against the outside world is his rolled-up felt collar and an involuntary shrug.
Dim street lamps accompany his walk, overhanging him with their light barely perceptible through the falling rain. His eyes shed tears that hastily join the raindrops, as if to testify, in the folds of the orbits, of the end of their existence.
At the limit of consciousness, he notices that a soft and bright light turns on and off again. The glittering cobblestones give way to stone slabs that guide him into the church. He turns his head toward a ceiling that reaches to the heavens as a faint hum replaces the gales outside. He walks among zealous souls as the candlelight streams through him.
After a few steps and a creak of the wood beneath him, he drops to his knees.
« Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned », he says. « Yes, my son », the priest replies through the grated opening.
« All my life I have lived by my own principles. They have brought me highs and lows. They have brought me success and protected me from misfortune ».
The tone of his voice drops and he gently knocks his forehead against the wooden panel before continuing.
« Yet this light! This burning wound, rumbling in my heart, will not heal, no matter what I do ». « What is it that tortures you? » the priest asks.
« I am unable to love. I have turned my back on the Lord's will to love ».
« Is it love that inflicts the pain or the idea that you have of it? ».
He pauses to consider the priest's question further.
« Both, Father. The malevolence of love and my own impression of it ».
« And your answer was to withdraw? ». « I saw no other choice », pronounced the man, defeated.
« Doesn't your coming here tell you otherwise? ».
A thunderous silence fills the cabin, nailing the man's forehead deeper into the crevices of the wood as his tears cascade inside.
« I see two lies and one truth, son ». « You are right about love. Suffering is part of love, without which it cannot exist. But you are wrong about two other things ». « First, you have not turned your back on the will of the Lord, my son, but on your own will to love. Love is like a candle. The more you cling to it, the more likely it is that the wax and fire will burn you. Your answer to this riddle is to throw out the whole candle. Then, what you forget, however, is the purpose of the candle. It gives light ». « You can't walk in the dark without light, my son ».
Silence falls on his mind, a moment so empty it becomes full. The man raises his head and lifts himself off the ground to get back on his feet. His eyes pierce the latticed wall, spotting the priest's dark, downcast eyes. They are lined with wrinkles that seem to be nothing more than the result of laughter of joy.
« Do you love, Father? » the man asks. « Every day, my son. I try to love every day ».
The man takes a step out of the confessional. He looks in front of him when his eyes catch a child and his mother laughing at each other after being drenched by rainwater. « Thank you », the man says as he turns around. « I will endeavour to try ».