Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrim's Progress Church

Seek and ye shall find. 

I sought peace and found myself in Church. Go figure. 

I dipped my finger in the holy water at the entrance, it simmered. Setting foot in Church for the first time in eight years, I burst into flames. Ash like acid rain fell, ageing the Chapel’s floorboards – I ebbed into a smoulder making my way to the altar. I sat front row, a glowing splint, hanging to the pew, sins of the world hanging from my neck.

I have to be incarcerated to read a book, more so service pamphlets. I’m good at giving advice I don’t live by, but I’m 33 and somehow we still got here. I made a sign of The Cross and tuned into the mass. As I listened to faith auctioned from the lips of the priest, alleluias were bartered as bids, and the pulpit was the centre of the world. Tuscan columns disappeared into the city of angels in the fresco overhead, while the windows yawned, sucking in the twilight. A draft came in from the east of the building with the evening and exited through the west with my attention.

Is karma real? Doubt it, but who knows? I split a cigarette with a leper last week. The love rippled out somehow and possibly rebounded in the speech that kept me from playing lookout to a thrift shop robbery. The guy replacing me got shot, the rest at least saw jail. Do things happen off entropy or intent? 

See no evil, speak no evil. I’ve never believed in confession, and doubt I ever will. Like most evangelists, I’m a salesman, we hate middlemen. Which is ironic for the former but plot twist, I end up wrong about all my disbelief and I’m subjected to fire and brimstone for all eternity. Nothing amusing here. But I’m not scared.

As I sit in Hell and watch earth rot, I have no regrets. Nobody ever goes to Heaven; the rules are manifold enough to keep us out. Maybe we die by the letter and orphan the spirit of the text. “My people perish for lack of understanding.”? Maybe there’s a chance. I could be wrong.

The priest is conflating eye contact for attention. For fifteen minutes off and on, he watched me conduct sermon with and for myself. Our body is The Temple of The Lord and we house our own pulpits. The chalice in the priest’s hands appeared fuming cold under the altar’s chill fluorescence. As incense twisted itself around the stem of the chalice on it’s way up to Heaven, my demons gaped. The windows above me glowed radioactive blue, maybe the building was about to explode. Still, the bell gave chime. The peace that followed was familiar but fleeting…Do this in remembrance of Me.

Announcements are being made, offerings are being called for; the mass is coming to a close. Gliding through the air, I’m not curious. I make my way down the aisle with the rest of them, my 10% in hand. My contribution, a wager.

Flipping coins into the collection plate watching where they land. Heads or tails. Betting on better days.

Good deeds beget good karma, hopefully. The truth should be just as light, just as easy to peddle.

“Life is a dream and we’re just the imagination of ourselves.” 

My regular agenda to blur the line between society and self is proving senseless. Soon as the smoke breaks out of my lips, I start dancing with the devil again. It’s been 7 o’clock for three hours now, but I’m not complaining. Tomorrow may never come, today is all we have. Life is solitary confinement. For the first month, you think Monday comes after Sunday, but then time disintegrates and next week’s already happened.

Maybe we don’t get what we want, even if we only want what we need. Maybe the desire is the sin and we’re all backsliders. I could be wrong.

The priest rises to his feet, pulling the congregation along with him.

“The mass is ended. Go in peace to love and serve The Lord.”, he belts.

“If only”, I close.

 **********

“Recessional hymn, Hymn 666.”

I clutch my hands in the muff of my hoodie. For the first time, I feel at one with the congregation. 

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