RaeDances > Nameless Epiphany

Nameless Epiphany

The true beauty of walking the line is that you never truly declare a position; never tip your entire hand, yet convince each player that they alone know the full extent of your game. I grew up on that line, walking it as precisely as a gymnast negotiates her balance beam, skimming its slender surface with a practiced, seamless grace. By the age of 13, I had already become an expert on the deceptions one could practice on the human mind, well versed in the ways of manipulation. The glass was never half full or half empty, but rather depended on who asked the questions.

To my parents, the cup of my faith seemed to runneth over, and if that was what they believed, I had no intention of outing myself before their god-blinded eyes. It was only in the secrecy of my mind that I allowed myself to waver from that line, to consider that the delineation of my parent’s beliefs might take me in endless right angles; not leading me on a journey, but drawing me into a box. The nuns at school saw me only as another pupil, a smart girl whose shirts were always pressed and white; they too were oblivious to the larval writhing of doubt beginning to stir in the blackest hollows of my gut.

I couldn’t tell you when the feeling began, when the molesting fingers of disbelief began to creep across my body like an unsolicited caress. Sunday morning mass had always held a particular fascination for me, a draw that I had easily mistaken for a call to the faithful. In my heart, the church had always been holy with stillness, a thick quality to the air that seemed to cradle the contours of my young face, brushing kind blessings over my still-smooth brow. When had the feelings in my breast changed? In what moment had it mutated into an unrecognizable dread that I could not hold in comparison against the purity of my regard? When had the thick air begun to fill my lungs with the panic of drowning.

One day stands out in my mind, however, climbing granite stairs and looking, as always, to the majestic steeple. Something had interrupted my ritual on this singular day, some distasteful scent, wafting over on a chill mid-winter’s breeze. My eyes had left the distant skies, turning earth-bound in curiosity and coming to rest on an unwashed man with matted hair and unseeing eyes. His clothing seemed threadbare against January’s icy breath, and his cheeks seemed sunken in a mix of hunger and despair. My mother’s hand had clutched painfully at my wrist then, pulling me away from this new unknown factor in my previously pristine world.

“Please,” he had whispered, “please. Can you tell me where to find sanctuary?” No requests for food or money, no need to part with anything save simple words. I had opened my mouth to reply, when my mother’s manicured fingernails had pressed angrily into my slender wrist, gouging out my breath in a painful gasp. “Such a crowd for a Sunday morning,” the man had said then, so softly that it could’ve been for my ears alone, “will nobody tell a poor man if he has found a house of the lord?”

I had watched the doorway throughout the entire sermon, craning my eyes towards the unmoving doors, trying to see if they would admit the sad figure from the stairway, but not once did they open. Hours later, I would see the stair where he had sat, the same stair I had passed every Sunday, and see it in a new and horrible light. The malevolence began there, in the small amount of space he had been begrudged, and began to spread, infecting the church from the ground it stood on to the top of the very steeple I had admired so. How could a place so holy be so unkind? How could the hearts of the righteous have so little compassion?

In retrospect, perhaps I can pinpoint that moment as the one in which the faith within me had begun to waver. The day that I had begun to tread that narrow line between devout and deviant. Still, I would continue to attend mass for years, continue staring blankly at the pages of my expensive bible in either a perverse need to please my mother, or a destructive one to torture myself. It seemed that the more my heart began to doubt, the more my head drove me into the center of my doubts. I had to know; had to seek out the truths amidst the lies, even if it required the insertion of probing fingers into questionable orifices.

The church and its teachings were in no short supply of those questionably ripe places; holes and hollows where the lies seemed to ooze to the surface like a putrid emission. So devoted was I in my religious fervor that my friends, mistaking it for an earnest study, began to poke fun at it - Bible-Brain, Jesus-Crazy, Holy-One, Trinity. The irony of it will never escape me. The faster I began to tear through the church’s lies, the more deft I became at the game of search and destroy. Somewhere along the line I had adopted a second mystery to debunk, this one in the realm of computers. The ruthless tactics I had developed in a pew had served me equally well at a keyboard, but the end result of the two searches had yielded unexpected results.

One path had led me to despair, while the other had led me to salvation - the unfortunate turn of phrase does not escape the irony of my wit. Many years down the road I would realize how subtly fate’s fingers had touched my life, how mysteriously contrived it all seemed. The second time I saw the blind man, that sad victim of the world who had started me down my path of doubt and discovery, he would once again be ushering me into a new era in my life. No longer would I concern myself with matters of an old and tired faith. No longer would I make ritual of treading between belief and doubt. Faith would come to bear a new meaning for me, no less intangible, but softer, more warming to my heart. A faith that spoke of love, not damnation. As the blind man waved Morpheus and I down the hall to the oracle I could swear I saw recognition in his sightless gaze.

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