Haunted in His Presence

by - May 24, 2017

 chronicles of Paulinus


Uncensored feelings smashed Kachi into tiny bits as he knelt there, stock-still. For what seemed like an eternity, his eyes remained steady and unblinking in his face. The whirling dirty ceiling fan sent musty choking air down his constringed nostrils. Assembled tears of untamed remorse served as a coolant to his seared eyes. It was prayer time in the newly erected chapel of St. Charles Lwanga – the patron of the seminary. 


Fleshly plucked royal flowers nestled around the chapel in an adorning pose, leaving droplets of unsettling water to wet the ground where they sat. A regal monstrance mounted bravely on the Altar stomaching the sacred specie which now glowed from its transparent belly. An enlarged picture of Blessed Mary hung gracefully, adorning the wall. Kachi cuddled his rusty bible tightly to his chest in an audacious pretence. He had made a visit to the Blessed Sacrament last some six months ago. He cowered in shame struggling to unfix his stare but could only manage to squint his eyes in slits.  


Kneeling rarely counted among his routine postures in prayer, he would prefer sitting. His joints were wielding the threat to stiffen. The edge of guilt sliced through his soul as he struggled in his artificially induced composure. He weaved his fingers across piously, hoping to appease he-whom-he-had-wronged. The grip of his crossed fingers tightened which caused steamy sweats to grease his palms disturbingly.  The thought of having neglected God haunted started haunting him. His eyelids halted as he gazed ruefully at Him – deeply hidden in the sacred specie – until his eyes burned in painful revolt. The more he knelt there, the fiercer his guilt haunted him. Meanwhile, he had been nursing a dislocated knee: an injury he procured from football. But the pain in his left knee – which would have sufficed as a penance – seemed like a tiny pebble in the ocean of his guilt. He felt estranged from God’s grace: an alien to grace.  


He pushed out his head like a giraffe and poked round to see his brothers held in a brilliant glow of piety: fists firmly clenched, placed directly before their face. Some clutched their rosaries between their crossed fingers leaving the crucifix tilting in pendulum sway. They were held enraptured in their individual prayers and meditations. This caused his lips to attempt a smile but his eyes didn’t bother. Their faces glittered in stark purity. The chapel held an audience with silence for a long while which fixated his fazed mind to counting the buzzing rise and fall of their dense breathing. The priest – who was congealed in his silent apprehension – kneeling with his legs crossed behind him, was cradling a purplish ornamented chain rosary. His colossal cope dragged him behind, giving him a backward curve. The rosary was winding in his finger as he counted each bead, releasing a solemn clinking sound that lifted Kachi’s spirit the more.


His mind rummaged through his blank memory in search of every possible word of prayer; not even the trite ‘Hail Mary’ that made up the greater number of words he spoke in his childhood spilled out. He had them now in the wind. ‘Lord,’ the only word that drooled on his lips. His acquiesced guilt was maturing to something that wracked his nerves: rage. He wanted to file a case against God: for letting him drift so far away; for turning deaf to his many prayers; for allowing his aunt to die of a dreadful illness; for not giving his parents the resource to send him to his dream ‘University of Cape Town’. Torrents of accusations welled in his heart. He slogged in his self-pity to a slippery precipice of grave despondency. He gave frustration a warm pat on the back. Reason steered off as wild emotions dunned his faltering faith. He has lost his bet to the Blessed Sacrament. He felt his salvation gliding away through self-doubt. Everything was bleak except the despondent state he had assumed.


Still there kneeling, something flexed his head forcibly and his eyes dropped on the Bible he had since flung on the pew. He had left it there with no interest in giving it a glance. His eyes lazily skimmed a verse that read:

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

It was Jeremiah 29:11. That singular verse plucked his dangling faith from forlornness’ tree and placed it before the Sun of Justice, who darted a gentle gaze at him. The shred of doubts tore in his heart burning up in misty fumes. Then came a glimmer of light lasering from the sacred specie. He received a new heart: his was the divinest of all. Doubts exiled and the sceptre of hope reclaimed. His favourite bible passage embraced his new heart; he remembered again. A verse he had learnt from a priest – Fr Maurice Emelu – Psalm 63:

  So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory. 


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