Area of Study Creative | Religion And Belief

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   Area of Study Creative The old door groans as I push against it; its ancient hinges barely surviving the mundane task of opening. The rain that drenches my habit, drips down the rosary beads that dangle like wind chimes from my neck; soaking into the wood that croaks beneath me. Inside the church, the scent of dust and gun powder is distinctly different to the usual fragrance of sacramental oils. Fluorescent shards of glass plummet towards the already shattered tabernacle; the crash echoing throughout the hallowed halls. I sharply inhale the dusty air, looking upwards at the once lustrous stained glass window that is now fractured and cracked. In the centre of the window stands Archangel Michael, the soldier of heaven and leader of God’s angel army, who  stares down shamefully at the grotesque parade in front of him. The church that I’ve called home for so long before and af  ter becoming a nun, now feels freakishly foreign. Familiar pews and familiar statues of holy saints lay shattered and scattered; strewn across the floor in an unfamiliar fashion. Woven through the labyrinth of chairs and rubble, lie mutilated pieces of once whole soldiers; unmoving, as if they were toy soldiers waiting to be played with. I try to move. I try to scream. But I am paralysed by the gory sight of corpses that compel my gaze like Medusa. Everywhere I look, the corpses scream pain, their volume grows with the sight of fragments of flesh that are splattered all over the pews. I wail at the sight of a single detached arm; its fingers outstretched towards the heavens like a sunflower bending towards the sun. Blood drips from the gruesome joint, flowing over the exposed flesh, over the bone that ends in a sharp point, snapped off from the rest of its arm. The blood falls and drowns the unrecognisable face of its owner, three metres beneath him; the broken cross impaling out of his stomach, stained a deep crimson. Flailing like a bird with a broken wing, I claw at the rosary beads on my neck as if it is a serpent coiling itself tighter and tighter. My thoughts, loud and unnerving, yell at me, reverberating in my ears. This war for ‘ independence’   is just a foolish pursuit that will end in death. The broken icons of my faith become blurrier with the bitter taste of salt. The horrific scene around me, caused by the war that I once thought would save us, is only trapping those who fight for freedom in a prison of death. I scorn myself for commending those fighting for Italia’s unification; when Camillo Benso, is just delivering us to evil. Unlike the war in Heaven, this second war for Italia’s independence will only cause death and destroy our nation. Why should we sacrifice our soldiers, our nurses, our children; to the gruesome grasp of war? Falling to my knees, I stare at the broken stained glass window above. Archangel Michael’s forlorn expression compels my gaze. The rain outside attacks the window, falling through the cracks and holes as if the angel is crying. ***   “Congratulations Sister Maria! We are proud to welcome you as a nun” Father  Antonio exclaimed, his jubilance shone inextricably across his face. Luminous beams glistened through the stained glass window; a kaleidoscope of colours was projected  on the insides of the church. The angel Michael stands within the window, he seemed to comfortingly smile down on me. *** Looking at this same window, 10 years later, no comfort comes. Only dread. The memory of my perpetual profession of vows, when I first became a nun, comes flooding back to me, denying any other thoughts. “As a  vowed nun, I will continue my growth and development of ministerial, personal and communal life of a sister” the words I once profoundly professed are muttered with disgust. Scrupulously staring at each soldier’s face, I constantly see the same expressi on of suffering branded upon each soldiers face, as if they were now owned by death. How hadn’t I noticed this before? Darkness appears when I close my eyes, screaming out even though nobody will hear. How could God allow this to happen? I stand, trembling in confusion. I don’t understand; we preach God’s will and those who follow it are all rewarded with death, praying for help, safety or guidance to the saints who lie shattered among the dead soldiers; seems like a naïve, childish dream. “A God of any religion would not inflict this kind of hate onto his people,” I firmly speak out loud. Defiantly walking towards the door, I eagerly rip off my habit and toss it liberatingly over an Italian soldier. My robes fall in a crumpled heap like the statues that are shattered around me, slowly sagging next to the face of a disfigured man. Piles of statues and corpses are easily overcome, falling to rubble when stepped on. I turn and stare at the horrific sight in front of me, looking at my beloved stained glass wi ndow. Michael’s figure is barely recognisable; but he seems to solemnly smile. A faint breeze carries with it the delicate scent of daffodils that lure me outside into the reassuring sun.
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