Doubt

This is an image of raindrops on a window slightly obscuring the scenery outside. I chose this image because it embodies doubt to me. My piece is about a lack of faith in God and this picture complements it.

My struggle with broken faith and doubt; salvation and death
Feels like hell on earth: the coals, the sulfur, and smoke.

Why do I come to you my Lord when you’ve distressed me,
Afflicted me and blinded me with eyes near-sighted,
Unable to see even glimpses of wondrous glory?
I often think it’s fear or a bitter emptiness,
Or maybe just the need to be deeply, truly loved

I walk unclean streets, lonely and needing anyone
Who’ll clasp my hand as I push aside the offscourings
Of yesterday’s ball with my feet; the revelers
Came and went,
I slept a half-sleep while the fireworks scourged the sky
With rockets like lashes; a whistle, a strike; the revelers
Came and went,
I watched the garish throng with drums; the revelers
Came and went,
But stupor gripped me, and like a dying caterpillar
In a chewed off cocoon, I watched the dusty cars
Slowly moving to adventures I’ll never know.

She says, ‘I’ll buy you a bunny to remember me,’ smiling,
I respond with exuberance, ‘Make sure he’s cute!’ and laughing,
Hug her tightly, our jaded eyes slowly and gently meeting,
But she’ll be gone one day, and knowing deep regret
For all the things both said, unsaid, and crushing, breaking
The heart she sacrificed for a foolish coward like me,
I’ll see just darkness and the agony of raw pain
And then cry, ‘Why! Why Lord!’ Distrusting faith and love.

My struggle with broken faith and doubt; salvation and death
Feels like hell on earth: the coals, the sulfur, and smoke.
Why do I come to you my Lord when you’ve distressed me?
Maybe it’s because I’m sick to death of my core

But will you have me?
But will you forgive me?
But will you redeem me?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Home (Part 1)

Jude woke each morning resigned, having given up on faith and hope. He yearned to forsake himself completely, rid himself of his soul, but he knew that just like every other human being he existed in two realms: the finite and the infinite, and though the body dies and decays, the soul lives forever. It’s one of the beauties of creation, the ephemeral and the eternal existing parallelly in the same being birthed from dust and ashes. Jude knew this but wished for utter, complete mortality. He wanted erasure, to have his name wiped away from the eternal blackboard. But once born, you’re handed this twin truth, and death doesn’t resolve anything, because it’s only the physical body that dies, while the spirit lives on. And this the root of despair—the inability to both forsake or find yourself spiritually. And the only way out is faith in an eternal God, because then you both root yourself in the infinite and forsake yourself more and more. Otherwise it’s a sickness unto death.

Some people believe in the universe, but the cosmos is only finite and expanding, and there is a God who sustains it, and the old book that most of us shelve tells you who the creator and sustainer is. It’s only logical that finitude (sentient or not) cannot sustain itself. There is someone greater, someone infinite who gives it its grounding. Jude knew this but couldn’t reconcile with a faith he once possessed because he often peered too deep, especially when it came to the root of all evil. He questioned his faith and riddled it with unnecessary doubt.

Jude loved Samantha, but they grounded their relationship in fancies of who they were and ideas of who they thought they’d become. And since human love isn’t celestial, but Jude made Samantha his all and a replacement for his faith, he grew despondent and disgruntled. Despair is part of the eternal aspect of the human condition, and it’s often better to know you’re despairing than to live in contentment, completely oblivious to the fact that you’re fundamentally flawed. Happiness is transient; moments shared with a loved one fade, become memory and slowly find themselves replaced; peace drifts away, and ambition falls short.

So, what we need is someone fantastic who transforms our emotion into something brilliant, our understanding into strong wisdom, and strengthens will and inclines it to eternity. Losing ourselves to God and not conforming to the world is the only way, and yet Jude claimed he was a nihilist. But in truth, he was either a doubting saint, a backslider, an apostate, or someone who tasted God but fell away because he secretly loved his despair though it gnawed at him like a worm nibbling on the core of an apple. Or Jude’s love for Samantha was so strong that he practically venerated her, replacing true worship with an idol in the form of a lover.

Possibilities filled Jude’s mind. Dreams, both sorrowed and ambitious engulfed him. He sought answers somewhere within, but the temporal realm offered him a plethora of choices. You can call it just daydreaming, or like psychologists these days call it ‘maladaptive’ daydreaming where a person has unrealistic expectations or gives himself to hopeless reverie. Jude’s life was catching up to him, but he stayed trapped in a cellar of chimera. To root yourself, you must go further than getting a hold of your life, because changing and working hard is grounding yourself in routine and not reality. True reality is unseen, infinite, but was also seen and died at Calvary for the sickness that plagues our souls, tainting it with sin and creating despair. True reality is the eternal now, and despair creates thirst, which creates need, which only the cross satisfies. Jude knew he had to root himself by finding himself by grounding himself in God, but trials made him weary and he kept trying in vain to forsake himself.

(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard)

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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