As I watch Isaac sit on a rock and look around him – at the snow-capped, rocky hieroglyphic peaks – absorbed by their beauty, mesmerized by the cadence of the breeze – I’m broken, both because my son’s finally finding redemption and because I received news of my wife’s death yesterday and it felt like a spear plucking my heart out. I still haven’t told the boy, because I want him to recover fully. I want him to see that there’s more to live each moment and the present can bring us so much joy. But here’s the irony: I don’t believe those words myself. Is there more to all of this? Is there an idyllic paradise where suffering dies? Does the detritus burn forever in Hades? Does Hades even exist? Do I doubt the will of God? Does God really exist?
I’m no longer the Knight of Faith, but I’m not my acquaintance, the Knight of Resignation. I’m the Knight of Doubt. The unbelieving saint. And what is there to believe? What is there to hold? Some second Eden, unperceived and unseen, tucked away in the bosom of a God who’s as enigmatic as they come? No, that sounds like madness now and rationalizing it, greater lunacy.
I could pen a second Psalm 88. All my enemies have defeated me, Lord. Darkness plagues me, and now that my affliction is complete to the darkness I’ll recede. They say wear the armor of God and press forward, but how can I? How can I when I don’t communicate with God anymore? How can I when my mind’s eye doesn’t see the beatific vision anymore? How can I when I’m dry and thirsty, but there’s no living water anywhere? How can I when the same God who told me to go to the mountains took my wife from me in the cruelest way?
I want more than this black and white Sovereign. I need more than this God who’s either for you or against you. Is there no grey route?
Isaac sits, and the placidity of this place envelops him. I envy him. I envy his peace and ignorance. I envy his bliss. I envy him though I brought him here to help him accept me.
The mist swirls and the orange sky dies and the thunder within cries, ‘Sarah!’ And I burst into tears.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)