The Kansas I know was, and is, a place of light and beauty, of space and expanse, of long, rolling hills and flat, squared wheatfields. It was, and is, a place of vocation and the means to a man’s realization of himself. It was, and is, a place suffused with peace and stillness.
But I must now undertake to write of another side of Kansas, the places of darkness and the demonic. For Kansas is not unlike any other dwelling of man, a place of sin and fallenness and evil. I am brought to this task by the unfolding of unbidden events and the relentless accumulation of words and deeds, things which break and tear and rip, which damn a soul. To write this is an emetic, but it cannot be a joy.
There is this darkness to Kansas, because, as I continue to maintain, Kansas is simply the human soul mapped. So it maintains contact with the divine, and grace is manifested in it. But it is also the sinkhole of passions, the writhing, viscous mix of bile, vomit and excrement which the vicious soul secretes, in which it bathes and which it ingests, parasitic upon itself. This oleaginous cancer which is the food of the vicious soul it imbibes with relish, but with self-loathing; it devours the vile stuff, but with the fervor of hopeless desperation.
I have witnessed depravity on the plains of Kansas, the sin that darkens the noonday sun. I have seen the pedophile lay his traps among guileless boys, certain of them my friends. I have seen the after-effects of sexual violence on teenage girls, acts of senseless machismo done by boys who do not, and may never, know what it means to become real men. I have seen the listless, nicotine-stained, stale-smoke lives, laced with pharmakeia, who seek escape, but can only bind the chains more tightly about themselves by seeking mere surcease from the noonday demon’s machinations, the drugging of the conscious, instead of the utter destruction of flickering glass boxes and the rapid-fire images which numb the attention because attentiveness cannot be had in an eyeblink. I have seen the Orwellian metropolis, the chestless men. I have seen the souls parched and dessicated from yielding to desert pleasures, and I have seen the oily souls of men fed on the fat and grease of bellies and groins.
The darkness of Kansas is not that of cave, and mountain shadow, of sprawling forest. It is a darkness that casts its pall over the mid-day sun, that blots out the moon. It extinguishes the human in the soul, leaving a deformed and distorted creature, utterly unable to free itself from the prison of its own making.
In the sensitive soul, a soul whose state of awareness is nothing else but God’s gift, the knowledge and experience of this darkness pricks and cuts and stings and burns. The sensitive soul, like Lot, is itself weighted with bursting bags of sinful secretions, but withal, by the tender mercies of God, it is delivered from the falling noxious gases and flame.
This deliverence, though, is costly, attended by bone-deep pain, the ache which is a fire at the center of one’s gut. For a man must hate mother and father, his own wife, and his children, if he is to be delivered. And how does one hate that heart underneath which one nestled while being knit together? How does one hate the very image which one is and in which one is made? How does one hate one’s own flesh, even if it stands separate from him? And how does one hate the tender guileless eyes, which look into one’s own, and in which one sees his very self, heart and soul?
I have not discovered anywhere the sage that can tell me how this can be done. I have not met the man who can look into the mysteries of freedom and grace, choice and destiny and can tell me how it is that one man repents of his sin, while another man casts himself headlong into the pit. Who can solve these mysteries? On what heart-lyre has this tragedy been played, and are these notes the sort of music that can be transcribed?
Having come this far, I can write no more. I stand mute and dumb before the unfathomable mystery of human darkness. And I now see that I was wrong. Truly this has been no joy, but neither has it purged me of the taint and the stink.
God help me.
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