Unbidden: Revelation for an Adulterous
“If those who lead you say, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the
sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is
in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of
you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will
become known…Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will
find me there.”
-- Jesus Christ, Gospel
of St. Thomas --
It wasn’t even a Sunday. It rarely ever is. My “religious”
clock has been out of synch since childhood. I go to the institution that is
my neighborhood church when it pleases me, when my spiritual stars are aligned,
or when I’m afraid. There, I frequently and inconveniently run into a lascivious
“religious orderly,” a middle-aged woman who many a times draws me into belabored
conversations about why I don’t come to sermons, or Sunday school. I’m convinced
she was just trying to find a medium to hit on me.
Regardless, this was one too many times.
“You, the Lord has blessed with potential,” she leaned over
and uttered carefully so that her words didn’t echo too far and beyond the marble
walls of the church. “You’re a good child, unadulterated by the ways
of the world.” I felt very uneasy, shrugged in shame. “Yet I see you come in
and leave and come in and leave again, intermittently. Why don’t I see you
at mass, or during my teachings?” My eyes wondered, glanced at my watch, and
I got off the oak plank and prepare to leave. “You’re a blessed, innocent child,
I can see it in you, in your eyes, huge and white like your soul.”
Snap. This time, she plucked wrong chords, opened the wrong
small door. And my conscience was shoved into a big, scary room.
Whoever said eyes are the window of one’s soul was either
a moron or philosopher who lives his life spinning more adages, and proverbs
and psalms and still no Revelation. What would a “religious orderly” or anyone
else know about my soul? Know what I’m so afraid of unveiling before myself,
let alone before a common, bawdy mortal?
Surely there was a time when I wore my innocence, my huge,
“white” innocence like a virtue, like a silver anklet with links and charms,
clinking and caroling with every sinless step. There was that time. But God
and I know I’ve “matured” since then, walked too far, stepped in the wrong places,
trespassed forbidden temples, tripped in potholes [i] . I don’t
know where or how I lost the charms. But I know why, and that notion pains me
like splinters in my soul. What’s left now is a resounding gong [ii] that cries
regret, madness and fear.
It’s during tumultuous times like this when God humbles me and anxiety begs
my soul to return to church. It’s not my first time here. I pay visits to
this institution whenever I’m too frail to weather the storms of my own self-inflicted
adversity. You know the feeling. Haven’t you ever gone to church, knelt down
on the plank, drank the tsebel, prayed, and still didn’t feel
forgiven or like you’d absorbed Truth? And like a mad man, you faithlessly
prescribe the same routine of returning to its cold, marble walls.
I knew I had been going to the wrong church. I knew it all the while.
So, this time, I found myself in the Room I’ve been haunted by ever since I
was deinnocentized. Church. I met the Relics of my Bible pointing fingers
at this formerly spotless entity. Betrayal like Judas’, surreptitiousness like
Delilah, immorality like Sodom and Gomorrah and an entire roster of related
wrong-doings separated by pages of pardons, of “I’ll never do this agains,”
of adulterous lessons learnt and lost and forgotten. The psalms of my misfortunes
and proverbs condemning my mistakes fill pages in my Bible that I was scared
and cowardly and too damn institutionalized to confront. My Kingdom was not
adorned with frescoes and marble and mosaics, but by a Truth, exposed in all
its adulterous ugliness.
I couldn’t read further. It was all too overwhelming. I snapped back out
“Delilah, Delilah! Are you….alright, was it something I said? Where did you
go? Why are you panting?”
I centered my emotions.
With a sigh, and blatant cynicism, “The same reason why your temple pants every
time I walk in here. Me, you - we’re all institutionalized, and stuck in the
wrong sin-sick church. Don’t you get it?”
I never went back there again. That’s not to say that I’ve become strong enough.
I am yet to return to my Church and muster the courage to reread the Relics
inside me, confront them, and come right. I’ll keep on keeping on, until the
plank that I kneel on splits, until the tsebel with which I anoint
myself to drive out my “devils” evaporates, until the suffocating mansion of
marble that pretends to be religion, dissolves. And beneath the residues, which
make up my Fears, maybe, just maybe, I will find…
[i] 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from
sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but
he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your
body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received
from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor
God with your body.
[ii] 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak
in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding
gong or a clanging cymbal.