The Sinner’s Anointment

Loneliness is a peculiar sensation. Like a suffocating fog that rolls over you and for one weighty moment you are entirely convinced that it is all that there is, and ever was, and ever will be… Its amnesiac toxins smother your senses of time and possibility, and in your trance a solution offers itself like a spell:

Do something reckless! Do something neglectful!,

it bellows, and suddenly you find your mind moving into places it would never dare go… but then you fear it approaches, and for that dark confusing moment you lose all sense of yourself- of your people- of your world… All images are thus distorted and dreamlike and— could you do things now?

You COULD do things now, things you wouldn’t do if you were yourself– but you are not yourself… And this you confirm by witnessing your thoughts lifted up, outside of your conscience….. It is as if a demon caught hold of your throat and pushed you to the edge of your existence where honour and courage were far away notions, but where it is just you now… just you and that lonely sensation, and that terrible sound.

But…then somehow….you remember something- something of yourself. and that thought, like an angelic hand, pushes through the toxic fog and pulls you back– back into the reality which you suddenly notice, and so familiarly, as if it were there all along. How could you have forgotten it?

Like a dream the loneliness fades away, and for a time you feel awake to the world and awake to your heart, as if you never left….. and you know for awhile something good… something not reckless, not neglectful….and thus your thoughts settle back into their places in the cocoon of your conscience. You are sure now, that this is who you are…and all that was thought or done in that terrible trance is brushed off, like a nightmare to be spat upon…buried…burned.

But still at peculiar moments you hear it– the terrible noise, the echo reminding you of a time when you were not yourself… but it is painful to recollect such a dissonance….it is painful to imagine ever a stain of unknowing splashed itself upon your conscience. you cannot look at it directly. you must forget….you know if you were to stare too closely you would be too near to that danger, and no one- no one has yet told you what it is….so you brush it aside like a rejected trauma…and walk blissfully through the world until one day that fog rolls in again….

Phantom be gone!

You scream at it, and again are writhing in its torment…and the pain does not subside, it gets worse and worse, for every time you try to recollect yourself, it pushes back harder with the old suggestion,

Do something reckless! Do something neglectful!,

And you hadn’t done it before, not that well, or you had done it and still managed to return to the world…so perhaps you ought to do it now…your hand feels so tempted, your body catatonic to anything you would have called “Good sense”. But here you are…with your familiar friend, the lonely beast, begging you to relieve yourself of its torment. begging you to anesthetise your singed thoughts and float freely in a realm outside of conscience.

and there your thoughts wander deeper into the abyss of wrongness and hatred…deeper along the paths laid out by your demon, who drags you to them by the yoke around your neck…. you might take a step…but then, in desperation, you remember something. you remember something of yourself, and you look around for the angelic hand, but what bursts through the fog are not one, but two now, waiting to drag you back into the light.

and this time as you wake up from the terrible dream, you wonder, what is this lonely fog that seeks to sweep you away from the world again and again? what is this sweet remedy that seeks to bring you back? and somewhere in those answers you find out something wonderful, deep, and medicinal….you find something genuinely good, and from your tarnished ways you emerge, a healer.

The Calling of Saint Matthew. By Caravaggio, 1599-1600.

The Calling of Saint Matthew. By Caravaggio, 1599-1600.


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