January 05, 2005

The footsteps tread carefully, even hesitantly across the courtyard square. Puddles of water left over from the rainy night now became traps for the careless traverser. As the first sign of light began to break in the horizon, he stood a few steps away from the building and took it all in, the first time he had ever managed to do so. It was majestic, grand, imposing even. But none of it spelt the love, the comfort that the people inside had promised so fervently. All it reeked of was legalism, judgement and condemnation ; nothing which he had noticed previously. As he drew breath in order to internalise the shock and disbelief which seemed to seep so inevitably into his mind, the first rays of sunlight began to give the structure its intended glory. He needed to find a reason, an explanation for what he'd just heard. He needed validation. Validation for the months of faith and devotion he'd put into the organisation, the 'family' they had termed. As he lifted his foot to embark on that seemingly long journey up the stairs, he muttered a silent prayer, although to whom he no longer knew.

The air inside was still, as always. Yet, this stillness did not culminate into a sense of peace and tranquility as it always had for him when he had been here on Sunday mornings. The stillness seemed to stifle his inner being, strangle his opinions and suffocate his own fears. The pulpit seemed no longer to eminate an aura of authority and wisdom, it only served as a bastion from which all legalism seemed to stem from. The benches which were usually filled with fervent, devoted believers were now empty and seemed to echo his every footstep, as if in silent vigil over his new-found skepticism. Could he even call his new attitude skepticism? Wasn't it yet another term coined by the organisation to prevent intellectualism from taking root within them? He swallowed hard, breathed in and rapped on the door through which he had been so many times.

"Yes? Ahh, my son, what brings you here?" The voice which greeted him was familiar and yet, so alien. He sensed nervousness and perhaps, even irritation in the Reverend's tone. "I... had some questions, Father. I..." He did not even manage to finish before he was cut off abruptly and rudely. "Before you go on, son, give careful thought to this. Do you want to question what The Lord has set aside for us? Do you truly believe you can comprehend what He has decided and what He knows?" "Father, if I could just have a minute of your time...perhaps we should sit down and talk about this. Let me..." The door swung ajar at his prod and revealed a sight which he had never begun to imagine. In the Reverend's room, a young boy knelt, sobbing and naked from the waist down. He gasped in horror as realisation hit him. The hypocrisy and betrayal! He reeled backwards in disbelief and found a bench in his way. Grabbing at the arm of the bench for support, it was all clear to him now. Those months of canvassing in the streets, carolling at Christmas and giving his tithe on Sundays, they had all been foolish endeavours.

His stagger turned into an uncertain jog as he stumbled his way through the benches. His desperation soon turned into anxiety as he searched frantically for the exit. Suddenly, the very place in which he believed he had found his salvation had turned into the very place where he had lost it. Salvation. Could it still be termed that? Or was it all just a big farce? An elaborate scheme? He did not know and did not want to anymore. And as he made his way through the now crowded courtyard, he stole one last glance at the church. It was at that point then, that his heart turned to stone.

Questions, questions, doubts. So many things running through my mind now and all at once, the torrent of apathy and cynicism hits me once again. Can Christian living ever be applied to the ways of this world? I suppose not. But yet, it is so hard to keep a balance on both. One has to go, one has to stay. Question is, are we prepared to leave the ways of the world behind? Easier said than done. Most people begin their year in certainty, making resolutions and resolving to follow them fervently. These people, however, end off in doubt and often compromise. My year began in doubt, so might it then, end off in certainty? I can only pray.


Traveller fell apart at 3:23 AM


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