“p r e s e n t a t i o n”

“‘In those days she could have prayed the angels themselves right down from heaven, if she’d been so inclined, and when she lay down on the moss and spread those great white thighs of hers, there wasn’t a sweeter place in this entire world.’

‘Well, that’s a mighty odd combination, I must say, prayer and that.

‘There’s thousands would agree with you,” he says morosely. “God is Love, but please don’t mention the two in the same breath.’”

(Laurence, 228)


The quote occurs during a drunken conversation between Murray F. Lees and Hagar. Murray is sharing his life story and begins to discuss the love affair Lou – his future wife – and he had in their adolescence. He discusses the lack of guilt he felt about their sexual experience, even though they were at a Bible camp: a place of sanctity, as to him their experience was beautiful, connective and even heavenly. Their dialogue served as an opportunity to characterize Murray as his hatred for organized religion is effectively related through the word choice “morosely”. His hatred is founded in the questioning of the love Lou and he shared – specifically from her as she became a “worrier”. The dogma he felt the church held disallowed him to have two beautiful aspects of life – sexuality and faith – in tandem and he ended up choosing the former as he was never truly able to connect with religion thereafter due to how torn apart Lou became in fear of judgement. I found a great appreciation for the quote as I was reminded how much I am able to love my faith without liking everything about it. When Hagar would speak ill of Christianity I, like most in her life, disregarded her crude comments as an aspect of her cynical outlook but coming from Lees’ character the criticism was all the more impactful. My heartstrings were effectively tugged as I was reminded how frequently the dogma within the church not only deters people but also perpetuates a message of inadequacy. Many are left pushed away from the splendour of faith. The peace faith can introduce. Legalism creates an appalling and hypocritical elitist environment; we praise a God of love and acceptance but attempt to play His role when the time comes to accept those who wish to praise Him too. I believe the values and morals Christianity encourages upon those who believe are extremely beneficial and do not generally coincide with popular culture; that being said, if we (believers of Christ) are determined to go into the world and share our truth there is a need for patience and gentleness that we (all people who choose to share their truth) need to practice in order to do so effectively without demeaning others. Therefore, I loved this quote as I was left questioning the ways in which I portray my faith to the world.

 

I’m in Heaven

June 18th

It was not a mistake.

We spent the evening tangled in sheets spread across cold planks with only the warmth of our bodies; when we woke, we smelled of each other. Our love was boundless. The closest to heaven I’ve ever been was between those great white thighs. I’m determined to return again before I die.

Her skin felt hot against mine: she was glowing. As she pulled me against her body, her breath on my neck flushed my cheeks. 

I never knew worship to be such a transcendent experience:

Religious ecstasy.

All aspects of space and time dissipate in her presence. I know she could pray the angels down from heaven if she so wished; even so, my eyes would be drawn to her alone. Determine to take in as much of her before I could hold off my eyelids no longer and I’m forced, for a second, to live in darkness without her.

Spiritual euphoria.

I know we shouldn’t have done it. We should have waited until we were wed but I have no regrets. I understood all aspects of God’s grace through the small part of Heaven he kindly placed upon her hips: within her, I was Loved, pressed against her chest, I felt Gentleness, and on her lips, I found Joy.

I love that woman with all parts of my being.

It was not a mistake.  


June 22nd

I came prepared this time, I was ready to discuss the possibility of marriage with her. I wasn’t ready to face her father but I needed to make my intentions known. Despite what happened, we both knew God would forgive us… He would forgive us again.

We stood face-to-face as I attempted to find the right words but I was crumbling fast. She smelled of rose and looked just as tempting as when I first laid my eyes upon her.

Excruciating beauty.

I wanted to ask her to marry me, to ask her to start our life together but I was so raptured by the sight of her, I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t want to stop myself. As we kissed, our clothes seemed to slip off our bodies onto the floor, arms quaking in anxious anticipation of what was to come.

Then the footsteps came.

We were caught.

Before we could hide or, quite honestly, do anything, her father entered the room, rage quickly filled his eyes.

Excruciating fear.

I hid her behind me as she searched for any shred of dignity that remained amidst the clothes. My efforts, of course, were futile. He spat in my face, screamed I was worthless: a curse on his household – I was never to return. Never to marry his daughter. How could I blame him?

But she had it worst of all; she, he said, was a whore. Never to be clean again.


July 6th

I hadn’t seen her for what felt like an eternity but I had to respect his wishes. All the same, I heard what they said. Slut, Dirty, Hopeless. How quickly they forgot the God of Love and Mercy they claimed to worship.

Then the stones flew.

The day felt like any other would, the feeling of dread didn’t arise until I reached the plaza. I pushed through the crowd of chanting, cold bodies until I realized what, rather, who, they were all watching.

How could they be so relentless? 

The stones came quick and mercilessly against her soft skin. The sight of ivory stained scarlet grew so unbearable that I laid my body atop hers as the stones continued to fall all the more viciously. They were going to kill us both but that could not deter me. Her skin felt hot against mine: she was shaking. As I pulled me against her body, her breath on my neck flushed my cheeks. What sin was there in protecting the sweetest place I had ever known?

I felt as Stephen did when his time came with no less noble a cause – I dare not separate the Lord from the love we shared.

The sleep was slow. The sleep was peaceful. The taste of Love lingering on my lips as darkness came.

It was not a mistake.


Sources:

Featured Image: The Rape of Persophina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Article about it/ where the image was found)

Gif before “I’m in Heaven”: I Love Couple via Giphy

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4 thoughts on ““p r e s e n t a t i o n”

  1. Dearest Ibukun,

    Wow, this is such a moving and thoughtful piece. I am so grateful you chose to do this quote and this topic. As someone who has struggled with faith due to the same reasons as you, I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone in my frustrations. Your writing is so concise and powerful, especially your use of imagery and metaphor.

    I have nothing in terms of improvement other than connecting your mean more to Hagar, if that makes sense, haha.

    Love this and love you.

    In awe,

    Liza

    1. Dearest Liza,
      Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read and comment on my blog; I really appreciate it! I’m so glad you were able to enjoy it and relate. I will continue to work on my matter and character focus – criticals continue to torment me.

      Thanks again for reading. Love you too. <3

      Hugs,
      Ibukun

  2. Dear Ibukun,

    I am so honoured to have learned so much while reading your work. You have given me insight into an entirely different side of faith that I was previously unaware of, which made for an intriguing read. I adored how the focus of this piece was on ecstasy and religion. I can’t lie, there are many things I disagree with the concept of faith, but your views on it allow me to see the beauty in something that’s shrouded in nothing but misery for me. Your writing here was more focused on why the quote mattered to you, and the passion was present from beginning to end. In addition, I loved how well articulated your ‘say, mean, and matter’ was here. The language and the way you told a story in the emulation had me floored, and I was honestly so engrossed. The visuals were also a nice addition to your piece, as they felt integral to your blog rather than being there to look pretty (which they do).

    For grow, I would offer you organize the say mean and matter portion of your work. It was a bit difficult to tell apart the say and mean at first!

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog! I am grateful whenever I read your incredible work, as your voice continues to impress me!

    Much love,

    Tim

    1. Dearest Tim,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I greatly appreciate your kind words. I’m so happy to hear that you were able to learn from lil’ ol’ me; I’ll be sure to continue working on my say, mean, matter and attempt to clean them up as this year progresses.

      Thanks again for reading Tim – I too feel honoured to have read your comment.

      Much love,
      Ibukun

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