Friday, January 18, 2008

Part 4: Ablutions sans Absolution

I sit in my room - my cell - and weep, sometimes. No, not sometimes. Often, really... perhaps even daily. I don't know. The days blend together; the nights refuse to end. I don't think I've slept a full night in six weeks. This torment: how long can it go on thus? Is all my life doomed to be this sort of agonizing and tempestuous hurtling from darkness into darkness? Am I damned to an existence only slightly better in this life than in the fiery one I feel ever more sure is ahead?

I have begun to doubt the existence of this ephemeral concept called hope. I have none. I remember when I did: but only barely. Hope. What is it? What use is it? The mind, fixated ever on the imaginary, on that which is not, instead of that which is. Lies propagated and promulgated by an absurd emotion which has no place in dealings with reality. Imagination may have once been a good thing, but it is fouled by our sin: it offers no reprieve, no escape from the darkness of the world, from the grayness that entraps us. Nothing I see convinces me otherwise.

So I sit here. I do my duties: cleaning the floors, sweeping and mopping. I do my meditations - just another opportunity to note the foulness of my heart and sink into greater guilt and shame. My ablutions are - what, exactly? They give me moments of that abominable hope. I grasp at those moments, but they slip ever from my grasp: like trying to hold air in my hands, to fix in my grip the oil of anointing - pointless. Ablutions I may perform: but no absolution is granted me.

Grace. I taste it, in those moments, when the Fathers pour the water, when the cup and the loaf touch my lips, when my confessions are done, and then... and then it is gone. Again and again. Grace, so near, and yet so vastly unreachable. As though ever beyond the grasp of my fingers, no matter how I strain: for no work of mine can erase my dept and the penalty I have incurred. Yet what else can I do?

I want to be a simple law student with a promising future again. I want to go back. Back to the days when everything was sensible. When I did not know the truth: this horrible, frightening truth of our misery and our inability to please the God who made us. I want to be a man alone with the great problems of the world before me to solve, and no insurmountable weight of sin pressing down on my mind.

But I cannot. I can never go back. I know too much.

That night in the storm changed me. I promised God. And He saved me. That was all: His end of the bargain complete. I gave my life. Oh, yes, I gave this life: and how! A life now caught in the torment of sin: oh wretched despair that claws at my soul, tears open wounds of my childhood, reminds me how much my father despises this life that I now live. (Do I agree with him? I begin to, I think, no matter the bargain I made those many months ago.)

In all this time, I have thought much about -

A knock at the door. My superior. He wishes to speak with me; I must compose myself, must somehow not give away to him the rage and the guilt that fill me equally this afternoon. He knows, of course: he is no fool. But my pride - another sin, no doubt! - will not let me speak with him on this.

And if he asks? If he asks?

I know not what then...

My countenance falls as I move to the door, I try to compose it, I fail, and everything begins to fall apart: moving in slow motion, I see his own face: grave, kind, severe, tender (how can those mingle?) as he begins to speak.

And his words are the question I fear most.

"Martin, you have seemed troubled. What is wrong, my son?"


This is part of an ongoing work of historical fiction.


  1. It's a wonderful thing that god doesn't exist! Such a relief!

  2. I'm afraid you've mistaken the point, here. (Keep reading the other parts of this story, still in progress, if you'd like to see how it is meant.) It is a wonderful thing that the tragically flawed conceptions of God that false religions have erected do not exist: but God's existence is the most wonderful thing I can imagine.

    Why do you feel the way you do about God?


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