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“Be beside me. Do not fear. I am who I am, and you should be you. There is no need for evasion. You need not try to flee at the sight of me. Do not tremble when you find yourself closer than expected. I know my mistakes. I know the wrongs I have done. The psalmist wrote about it…my offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me.

If you see me in a corner, there is no need for you to turn back. You can proceed to where you should be, where you have to be. If we happen to be walking the same way, there is no need to take a detour, or to pretend there is another place you should be at. I do not want you to lie. You should not lie. If I run into you, you need not look away. I can do that for you; I can stare aimlessly at a wall and feign the busyness of a mind. If I happen to be on the same queue for confession or pew inside the chapel, there is no need for you to delay your prayers, and for you to leave so you can avoid me. I can close my eyes and not see you, if it makes things easier. I can quietly slip away and leave so you can have the space to talk to Him.

If you find yourself alone with me, inside the elevator or at the pantry; if by coincidence we are at the same mall or the train station; if you and I are at the oratory or lobby, take comfort that you are not obligated to speak to me, to greet me. There is no need for you to ask me how I am. For I will not ask that you carry out a conversation, even if it is nearly wordless, senseless. You can be quiet, while I can quit. And I reassure you, I am doing my best to quit.

You can give me silence. I will understand. You can bring atonement. I will embrace it. But be beside me, at least. Do not disdain me, or be disgusted. Do not fear me – I have accepted the truth. You can hold me accountable and I will gladly accept, I will even agree. You can choose to never speak to me again, and you will be justified. But be beside me. I am human too. I am suffering. I am a sinner. There is no need for you to run away, to leave, to avoid me – you need not bother – I can already do that on my own.”

via Be Beside Me — Letters to Henri