Monday, November 06, 2006

The Returning

I found this in one of my old journals today. It was written in October of 2003 on a lonely beach in NC. In reading it, I decided that it had great significance to my present spiritual journey. It seems that even way back then I felt that God's presence had left me. This story was written as a prayer for a returning, a sweet reunion between myself and God. I have given the story a bit of a spruce from its raw form but the spirit is intact. I offer this up as a prayer of hopefulness that this returning, this reunion will occur very soon.

I have traveled countless miles across the burning sand trying to find you. My body has begun to consume itself. I am in need of sustenance on many levels. My body needs food and water but my soul needs you. Your absence has taken a toll on me. That is why I seek you out.

After so many days I cannot keep up with them, I see, in the distance, an ancient place of worship. It has been so long since I have been here that I do not recognize it. It lies in ruins, neglected for an amount of time I can no longer recall.

I reach the doors and open them. They part slowly with an ear shattering creak. As I enter the main chamber, I look across and see what must have been the altar of praise on a level rising above the floor. Below that, at floor level, is a fountain. There was once a time when this place was filled with songs and shouts of praise, the fountain filled to overflowing. Now, the fountain is empty, as dry and dusty as the sand caked on my feet.

My body aches from walking and from the emptiness I have lived with for too long. For a time, I am too frightened to move. This ancient place mocks me with the ghosts of the past. But I must shake these apparitions that haunt me and move forward. Slowly, I make my way to the altar.

Climbing the steps, I falter. My knee scrapes the steps, releasing a small amount of blood. I wipe the wound with the rags of my clothing and continue up to the altar. The memories flood my mind. At one time, I stood here. It should be familiar but the familiarity is faint. Overwhelmed, I speak the faintest of words across my cracked lips.

“Where are you?”

The words escape as a dry rasping sound. Vocal cords unfamiliar with speech rebel against the attempt. But once the words are said, others begin to follow. I speak them to you, although there is no evidence that you are here.

“Where are you?

My voice falters and I fall to my knees at the foot of the altar. I am spent and broken. My mind begins to wander and the old doubts begin to fill my mind. Every emotion imaginable is coursing through my veins, begging for some kind of release. If I were not dehydrated, tears might flow but, as it is, my face remains dry.

Suddenly, through the confusion, a song enters my memory. The last thing I feel like doing is singing and yet, there it is. I try to ignore it but it will not be denied. My lips part and the words escape into the air.

“Have mercy on me…”

I laugh as they come out. It has been so long and I am amazed that I remember them. I repeat them to make sure I can do it again.

“Have mercy on me…”

They come easier each time I repeat them. Over and over, I sing them again and again. At first, they come out as barely a whisper. After a few moments, my voice builds strength and the volume grows. Before long I realize that I am not so much singing them as screaming them. I sing until my body has nothing else to offer and I collapse into a heap on the floor.

As I am lying there, feeling like death may overtake me at any moment, I hear a faint sound. At first, I believe my imagination to be playing tricks on me, but no…there it is again. I laugh, thinking this must be the end because I am hallucinating, but my laugh dies as I hear the sound again. It is stronger this time. It is the sound of drops of water hitting stone. With all the strength I can muster, I pull myself to my feet. Peering over the altar, I see that the fountain is filling with water.

Forgetting myself, I race down the steps to the edge of the filling pool. I dip my filthy hands into the water to find that it is real. I put my palms together and fill them the best I can, bringing the water to my dry lips. I drink down the refreshing water and it begins to revive me. The fountain is now beginning to flow like a river. The basin fills quickly and I take delight in plunging my head into its cool embrace. I fill my mouth again and again until I can drink no more. Feeling clean and satisfied, I lie on the floor and stare up at the ceiling. A smile forms on my face as I whisper,

“There you are.”

© 2006 by Marty Gordon

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