Wash my hands a thousand times a day. Wash until the skin is about to peel off. But, that’s what fear does to me, repetition to coax the harm from the doorstops of my mind.
The jarring ritual to absolve me from my sins.
The thump of the heavy book of scriptures as it hits my desk and numerous absolution verses in it strike me with lack of encouragement or clarity.
‘For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’
‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’
‘Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.’
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
That simple. Confess my sins. Forgive others for their sins. My righteous way to absolution. Purifying my soul. Purifying my mind… and there it stands the forgiveness of my own unrighteousness. To forgiven oneself.
The hallmark of the equation. The simple becomes impossible.
“Read the passage again.” Jeremiah encourages but I stumble with the verse and say nothing. All these rituals to keep us on the righteous path.
“Forgive me,” I say and leave the room. The hallway walls collapsing on me as the length of it seems to become the river that snakes along the mountain. There is no end to it and reaching the washroom door seems impossible. How few paces have become a journey through gardens of evil and loss. I push the door open with exertion and crawl with heavy lungs into an abysmal terrain of fires and corruption. The beds filled with murder and wickedness… streams of blood and as I reach the sink to scrub my sins out of my hands, the water runs crimson and hot. Burn my fingertips. Burn the dense and dark spots in my mind. The colossal asteroid that carved the incessant craters, a consequence of snorted lines of pearl. But, I’m not a drug user. If anything, I’m the purest. Conjunction of simplicity and dullness.
The faint sound of running water trickles my senses back to reality. The osmosis to reality. Gradual and unconscious assimilation but it happens and I’m grateful for it. By then, however, I have rubbed my skin to purple-blue and the pain begins to hammer its notice.
“Where have you gone?” Lance has followed and hovers like an insidious spy weaseling the answers out of me.
“To cleanse my hands.” My answer, simple but honest.
“Are you okay? You’ve been in and out of here ten plus times already. But who’s counting.” He smiles.
“It’s this voice yelling at me, beating me down that I’m filth. Before I didn’t know any better. I simply existed. No rights and wrongs. But now… everything I do is wrong. Condemned. I’m never clean. The words are strict and unforgiving.” I lay it all down, spill what has been keeping me coming back to this loop of rituals and routines. Believing that next time it will get better. I will feel better. But, I never feel better. I reset to the same beginning. Fear and filth that chokes me until I wash my hands all over again.
The verses don’t help. If anything, they make it worse. Their bitterness amplifies the wrongs. Why can’t it ever be a sweet and adequate ending?
My correspondences of pleas to God remain unanswered. Same as my words to Lance have no impact as he pats my shoulder and with ignorance says, “It’ll be alright.” But nothing’s alright. My fear remains as the water drips from my hands. Unwashed the washed.
© Jacob Greb — 2020
return to Story Teller