Forty

These inner conversations. Momentarily it occurs to me that I am free of certain sins. Finally I have broken the yoke. Alhamdulilah.

But then… Fool! It has only been forty days, and how many times did you fall before, thinking yourself free of the very same?

And then I happen upon notes dated 2014, and all of a sudden I recall that I have been swaying to and fro for five years, the pendulum swinging between my good and bad almost without pause. And soon I recall that 2014 was merely a juncture along the way, as I trace back another decade to sins like it, the same and worse. Astagfirullah, astagfirullah.

And in my mind, all of my sins coalesce into a single blot on my conscience, as it occurs to me that I have spent most of my life living this way: that my occasional goodness is more the aberration than the sins which assault me.

For a moment I thought myself free of what harrangues me. All of a sudden I recall that I have been walking this way for a quarter of a century and almost certainly more. Oh my Lord forgive me.

Often I feel hopeless. I have wronged myself repeatedly, and I have wronged others too, and I have wronged my Lord, and I do not know if He will forgive me, or if this pretence of inner reform will be thrown back at me, because the weight in my scales favours all the bad I have done, the minuscule good witness against me.

For a moment I congratulated myself for freeing myself from the yoke of one sin. But it is pure dellusion. I have been here so many times before, over and over, but the truth stands witness against me.

Sometimes you give up one avenue, only for the assault to launch again from another direction completely. Sometimes it is worse than that: you think that what you are doing is good, justifying it within. Sometimes it is just inescapable, as the good within does battle with the bad, on and on for days and weeks and months, fighting and fighting, but always losing.

Forty days a free man? What is this? For most of forty years I have been a slave to the worst of me. I started on this path, taking it up to reform my soul, the same inner conversations I am having today convulsing me to action. That was twenty-one years ago. Now I recall every stopping point along the way, when I committed to reforming my inner and outward. And now I recall every moment that I answered other calls, and I am filled with regret, and fear.

If only I could put back time, I think to myself. If only I could clear my cache, permanently delete all the clutter and detritus within. Oh yes we say that, only to repeat the same mistakes over and over. We repent, only to do the same again.

Well, the sun rises on the horizon, its bright rays pushing through the haze over the hill. Birds in the garden are singing their songs as they forage for food after the cold night illuminated by a full moon. A new day dawns.

If I commit this morning to turn my forty days into forty years, will it be enough to supplant all that I did in the forty years preceding it? Oh, be true to yourself, damn fool: there is no belittling what you have done, and you know it. It is the dominant part of you. All you have to hope in is the Mercy of the One.

And that, I am afraid, is the truth. After everything I have done, all I have is hope that I might be forgiven. But I don’t know if I will be. I live in fear.

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