Chapter one – Absolved from choice:
I am writing here because I have no one to confide in, you’re but a piece of paper but I hope that just expressing myself here will relieve me of many pains and worries. I will keep you close in my pocket at all times, living next to a pen in that dark recess for me to summon up at anytime that I wish to express myself. I have had many ideas or thoughts and lost grasp of them merely by not expressing them to others or even myself. I hope too, that these writings will help me to pursue those difficult thoughts and no longer lose them to idleness or lack of social interaction.
I am known by my family name of Odinfeider, but I am also known as father. I am a priest in a small town. Obviously being the father of this town I get to know pretty much everyone, giving sermons and advice and…well…just generally being a part of the community, serving the people. As I write this I do consider that me being a priest in a small town seems no cause for suffering, which in general it really isn’t. I take great pleasure in the serving of the people that I do, the talks and advice I give and the way that I see I am influencing people towards God’s way. That in itself, is greatly rewarding. But like all men, I have questions, I have worries, I have debates inside my head, and that is the key to my own pains. I wish to exercise myself of this pain, or would that be exorcise? I think the best way to come to an understanding of yourself, you must delve into your past, considering all that has come before the present and use that to teach you about where you are right now, which of course is only happening right now because of that past.
I was raised like many, common and poor. My father was a deeply religious man who influenced me so greatly. Never in my life since my childhood have I had such respect and fear for one person. He was intimidating, scolding, but fair. He taught me God’s ways as I was being raised by him, my father teaching me about our father. I quickly picked up most of what he spoke of. The human condition being a curse, our own nature being corrupted and always ready to turn from God in order to indulge in some temporary pleasure. I began reading the scriptures my father had the moment he had taught me to read. I didn’t go to school, he taught me at home. And being such a wise man, he was the most excellent of teachers, but never easy on me, to which I am greatly thankful. He was quite obviously and evidently preparing me for the holy life, to serve the people and to serve our father.
At the age of fifteen I was ready to begin my priesthood and was apprenticed by my local parish, that priest himself was looking for someone to take over his main duties as he was incredibly old and literally falling apart with each year. He needed someone to take over the greater duties and to be left to advise or just help with small duties. I was delighted but took this opportunity very seriously. Solemnly. I carried on with my daily studying of the texts and began to look after my dad as he fell sick from working himself into exhaustion. With more experience my duties became more demanding, giving talks and advice, group meetings and travelling to other towns in order to educate and collaborate the masses. It was of course rewarding, not in a material sense, but deep down it rewarded something inside me, my humanity was being nurtured and pleased. By the age of nineteen my father had only worsened, not being able to work anymore he relied on me, who relied on donations to feed him. A man in that condition can only last so long, but my father kept on.
This however stopped. I was woken up by a scream one morning not long after my 20th birthday. My father was screaming my name. I of course ran to him and tried my best to comfort him, believing he had a nightmare. He grabbed my hand in his and told me he knew his time was up. He begged me to promise him that I would always do my best to serve God. I of course without a single moments thought or hesitation promised him on everything that I knew and was, that it would be done. I was sincere and he knew it from the relief in his eyes. He squeezed my hand and closed his eyes, until his grip loosened and he passed away.
As to be expected, I was broken. My father, my teacher, my everything had died. But I knew that as it was such a sad event, it was also glorious. Such a great man cannot pass away and fail to be rewarded for all of his services. Using donations I worked up a funeral which almost everyone I knew from the town came to. They offered me no words, only sorrowful stares. I am sure they understood my pain and that I didn’t want or need to be comforted. It was a beautiful sermon and I surprised myself by keeping perfectly stable and calm as I delivered a eulogy and song of praise. With my father’s death the house became mine, I took on more duties in order to keep myself busy and studied far harder than I had ever done before.
Currently I am thirty three and I have been the priest of this Church for over 11 years, the poor old teacher of mine passed away not long after my father. I am far too young to be looking for an apprentice and all people in this town see me as perfectly able and capable in all duties and religious matters. So I am the only priest and religious advice in this town. To which I am greatly proud of myself but I am more proud of the people who offer me constant social questioning and their presence at every meeting, sermon and anything else that I choose to do.
That said, leaves me with only now to explain. I have been thinking about and considering my past for a very long time now. I see that I choose my religious duties from the upbringing my father gave me. So I never actually choose this way, it was given to me. From my father most definitely, from God I am sure too. But I do also get some form of pain from considering this. It seems to me like I reacted to my father, instinctively picking up what he did and said and thought to be right for me. But I honestly don’t remember ever making that choice for myself. I understand that at that age questioning him would of been an extremely stupid and bad choice to make. I will admit that it is much easier just to go with what you have been told and feel to be right and correct, whether it is or not doesn’t seem to bother many people. I will admit that questioning the truth of what I do, say, believe and am, scares me. I cannot even imagine doing otherwise, and at this point it would be far easier just to carry on the way I am. But I cannot help thinking that although this may be the right path and I feel it to be, maybe I should of questioned my father, because at least then whatever I do and would be right now, would be by my own choice. It seems that by going along with what I have been taught has absolved my from choice.
Chapter two – The questioning:
I have looked over and read what I wrote about before countless times. I can no longer sleep, I just stare at the page willing thoughts and words to be expressed out of me. I have been mulling these thoughts over and I think I have the words to express my thoughts on them, finally. For quite a while my thoughts just seemed to be mist inside my own head, ungraspable and inexpressible.
I have begun questioning myself constantly, questioning every single thought and word I let manifest itself. What I have been questioning most of all is the why and how I can follow such a thing from my past and stay to it? By why I mean why do I think such a thing is correct to follow? It is really just my upbringing? Is it really because I know it to be so and correct? I have no answer to all of these questions that I throw at myself like scorn filled spears. Why am I attempting to impale myself with this questioning? Even that I do not know. It would be a lie for me to say I know any of these things of which I speak of, and that, disturbs me so greatly. So much more so because I have never considered these things up until now. What a thoughtless drone I must have been. But it seems so odd to me to have these thoughts, even now.
The how of the question is yet more disturbing to me. How can I follow such a path when it takes my freedom away? I can see why as a child or even an immature man one could take up such an offer with glee. But I don’t even remember the offer. It merely was the way it was, no alternatives. And a child with only one choice can obviously only make one choice. But now, as an adult, I feel a sense of remorse at not making that impossible second choice of freedom to choose my own choices.
This line of thought leads me onto something that has became so painful to me of late. Other people’s questioning. My own is painful enough, but other people’s just tears me apart. I am trusted to know what I speak of and advise. But the questions…I know the answer as much as they do, if not less. If only they questioned themselves and searched for the answers themselves rather than torturing me with their innocence and child-like trust in me. The problem to me, is that I already know the reply to when an old woman speaks about fearing death, when a young child is upset about their dying parent, when a young girl has just lost a friend.
I already know the replies, but they are not mine and I do not know if they are….Good advice…Or even advice at all. They are more comforting statements then anything else. This bothers me now more than ever because when somebody asks me such a complicated question, I instantly have a prepared reply rather then digging deep inside myself and finding a human answer with them and for them. To comfort them with my own experiences of life’s pain and death’s dread. To repeat some text seems….unthinking and dare I say…Dishonest as an emotional being who they are reaching out to. I think having the ability to recite a text and not actually dig into my own experiences has always comforted me, which seems egotistically absurd when I am here to help my fellow man deal with his Earthly problems and coil. Reciting a text gives you the feeling of an objective reply, which is not what they need. They need your subjective human experiences, they can trust that as it is purely emotional and human, which is exactly what someone needs when they are seeking another human to talk to.
Repeating written words no longer comforts me, I get the feeling I am a liar. That I am being dishonest. At least when I speak of my own experiences, I know them to be true. When I speak of texts, I myself question them. How can I sit advising someone about something that even I do not and can not know? The worst thing about it is seeing the humans reply “Of course” and smile back with acknowledgement and all the wild the children frown or cry or just do not understand my words. Is that due to the corrupted human condition being more acute in children? Or is that just due to adults being raised as I did and seeking childish comforts? Childish comforts that even children don’t accept as truth.
Chapter three – The resolve:
I haven’t wrote down my thoughts for quite a long time. Again I have just been thinking over and over what I have wrote before. People approach me as if I have some kind of divine link. As if my friend is God and I know and speak to him. I do not and cannot. I know God as much as the next man. But why do I have this position of power that demands respect when essentially I know as much as the pauper or the criminal when it comes to facts about God?
He does not speak to me or reveal himself to me. And since I have begun questioning this had done nothing but frustrate me into a state of melancholy. I have been unable to smile or answer people’s questions. And they have noticed. They have put it down to a very delayed reaction to my father’s death. But ironically maybe it is, but not my material father. It seems God is dying in me.
I have left the Church under a few people for a week in order to rest. They happily allowed me and filled my place, wishing me a nice week to return my health. There is nothing wrong with me or my body. I have decided that I would rather live in the uncomfortable position of replying ‘I do not know’ than to carry on giving assumption based platitudes. I have, for so many years been regurgitating texts, regurgitating my fathers words. My life is a regurgitation of his. These texts, thoughts, words, platitudes, morals, ways and lives are not my own.
I am not sure how but I want everything that I do and say to be my own. I want to live in the uncomfortable position of not knowing and admitting it. I want my life to be my own, not modelled or fashioned after anyone else’s nor a continuous of someone’s who is no longer able to live their own. I still have God, or at least I believe so. If he contacts me or reveals himself to me than so be it, I will not and cannot deny it then. I will not deny him now either, I just don’t know and I will not ever say I do know until I do know exactly that. I have always kept a small amount of money behind as a reserve, I donated that to the local hospital and I plan on travelling to another town to seek work…or something. I do not know. All I know is that I do not know.
I do not denounce God but I denounce my faith. I see it as nothing but a hindrance to me coming to know anything, which includes God. I’m leaving this notebook here and I do not care for it anymore. Maybe someone will find it when they note my missing and see what I see. As for now and me, I am mine and so is my life. And I intend on cherishing and embracing it from now as mine, with each and every choice including this one, they will be made and informed by me, and no one else, and certainly not faith.