(Part 1, here)
Then, before me, upon the waters, I saw a boat. In it were Reason, and Purpose. I could see at once that these were at odds with each other. They were made to be friends, and seemed to be inseparable, indeed they were bonded together by the hand. The one – Purpose – wanted desperately to be used, but was so badly disillusioned that he struggled even to believe in himself. It was so, that as I stared after him I could only see but the faintest outline of his being; he was so pale, and sickly that he was nearly invisible as though he might at any moment phase out of existence – if, indeed, he truly existed at all, and were not merely a figment of my hopeful imaginings.
The other – Reason – was undeniably present, his features were strong, and sharp, and he argued ceaselessly with Purpose, of the realities of their situation. Reason was astoundingly intellectual, and made constant convincing arguments against Purpose who lay on the deck at present, helpless against the sound beating he was receiving from his fellow. I was too numb in my senses to feel sorry for the pathetic thing (surely the numbness I felt toward it was a defense against his pain, which was my own;) so I let Reason continue to go on fiercely throttling Purpose. At least that, somehow, made me feel somewhat empowered: and it was only me he was punishing, anyways.
I intended to approach the boat, having not yet considered how to get out to it, but when I intended toward it, I found myself suddenly there. Reason was much larger and uglier when I saw him up-close, and far too sharp for his own good. Seeking a comrade, Reason left beating Purpose for the moment, which was good, for he seemed to be barely clinging to life.
“Shall we find our way out of this place?” I asked Reason, who smiled warmly for my question and I realized his good nature, and that in his violence it was Hope that he sought.
“I would like nothing more.” He responded, and just then the boat lurched – for from below something had struck us. We three staggered, and caught ourselves on the sides of the boat. As I peered over the edge of the boat, beneath the swirling surface was a great, fierce crocodile – the beast which had thumped us. It turned itself, having just passed under the vessel and glared up through the surface of the water, locking its yellow reptile eyes on mine in a quite foreboding fashion, and became – for the moment – unmoving.
“That beast!” Reason said, staring down with me. “She is always nipping just at the heels these days!”
“What is it?” I asked.
“The shadow of leviathan. She has power to consume us down to Hades.” Reason declared.
“Even here?” I wondered aloud, understanding my setting to be the sanctity of my own mind.
“Especially here.” Purpose declared, and I glanced at him, who with intense eyes stared hard at me, emphasizing the weight of his statement.
“She is just as you as we are…” Said Reason, motioning to me, himself, and Purpose. “Indeed, this is the place that she is most powerful.” Then, motioning all around him he added, “This is the place where decisions are made, where eternal judgements are rendered. From this place flow forth he issues of life and death. Anything that happens to you from without,” he pointed sharply to someplace between the sky and the horizon, indicating the world outside of my mind; “are only things done TO you. They have no effect on your everlasting reward; such things can merely taint this place, and only to the degree you allow them. But the things that take place here prove who – and what – you are.” He then peered down into the water at the immense, fierce crocodile – leviathan’s shadow (was it just me, or had she grown larger even as Reason spoke?). “I daresay, even the True Leviathan that exists beyond you has less power over you than she, which exists within.” He then looked me dead in the eye and declared: “In the end, you’ll be to blame for all your deeds, for they are made of the decisions of your heart. Nothing without can bridle you. YOU are your own worst enemy.”
Reason’s speech made me weak in the knees, for I knew he spoke absolute Truth. I looked down at her again, she continued to stare up through the water at me – her eyes had not left me. Yes, it appeared she had grown, undeniably, and she appeared formidably large as though she could consume our vessel with one single snap of her immense jaws. “What is her name?” I queried further.
Reason’s eyes shrank to slivers, and a sadistic grin spread across his face as he looked at me with wry cunning. “You don’t know, do you?” Then he paused, and answered himself: “Ah! But you know, you just won’t admit it!” It always baffles me how I treat myself. As a weapon, I try not to use Reason thus on others, but he is mercilessly harsh with me. At this, my thought, he smiled in a somewhat friendlier manner, and answered: “Yes, but I do so amuse you. Where else shall you get comedic relief but at your own expense?” For this I had no argument. I looked down into the water again at the crocodile, who stared on with patient, hungry eyes.
“You must not go on looking at her.” Purpose spoke up, and I turned, again, to look at him. He was aware of the looming danger, but not fixated on her as Reason, and I had been. I could see now with closer proximity that Purpose was deeply and grievously injured – but his main injuries seemed not to be those inflicted on him by Reason’s assault. Rather, those injuries seemed to be mainly superficial upon him, whereas he seemed to have several deep stab wounds in sundry places. I glanced back down at the crock below, wondering what her part in the affliction of Purpose. She hung motionless in the water.
“Purpose is right.” Reason declared, looking off toward the horizon. “The more you look at her the stronger she becomes, the greater the danger. And make no question of it, she will consume us all though we be she, herself. In any case, we should move on from this place. I must recommend that we let Purpose take the lead, for he is the Captain, and I only the pilot.”
I looked, again at Purpose, in his feeble state, and wondered how he could captain anything. Truth be told, I still wasn’t entirely certain he exists at all, or whether he were merely a creation of my hopeful mind. Must we rely on this pitiable creature? But Purpose, even when injured, is far stronger than he appears. I now saw him, not naked as before, but with the garb of an 1700s naval officer, complete with a Tricorn hat. He reached into his bosom and bore out a tiny antiquated compass. As he did, Reason leaned in and whispered in my ear: “That compass is the best we’ve got from day to day. Our map is in tatters.” He then extracted a leather tube which had the word ‘FAITH’ scrawled in bold capital letters across it. He opened the lid and dumped a worn and battered parchment into his hand. He slowly peeled it open before me, taking care not to tear it any worse than it was. Certain portions of the map appeared pristine; the center was so clear that it played like a high definition film: Jesus Christ born in a manger, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, dying on the cross, rising again and ascending to take the throne. The eternal Gospel played in the map’s dead center as clearly, and flawlessly as reality itself. Certain other portions were clear as well here and there about the corners – places I’d already been, testimonies I’d meticulously mapped with the map-maker… yet even of these were beginning to seem faded, cracked, or water damaged. Where was the church? Where were relationships? Fading… torn… some pieces of the map were lost entirely.
For a moment the numbness left and I felt the story of my consciousness through the eyes of pain. A voice seemed to echo through the air: “…a man’s enemies shall be the members of his own household.”
And then Reason jolted me back, as he began rolling the map, to place back into its sheath: “When your faith is insufficient,” he said.
“We must rely on Hope to find our heading.” Purpose finished, lofting his tiny compass.
Of course, it was only logical that Reason carried the map, and Purpose held the compass. I looked down at the little compass, and saw that it, too, was in rough shape, and small. Yet shakily, as I beheld, the needle drifted to a singular direction, tending away from the crocodile in the water. And I knew that were it laid on the map, hope would be pointing to Faith’s center, where Christ was crucified. Yet how was that part of the map connected to my extremities? Was there enough there to fill out the tattered map, and release me from my utter lostness, and bondage to this place, that I may return with the whole of my being to the realm of Truth? The shaky little compass of hope affirmed that it did, but Reason – the smart one, whose eyes were always searching – was not so sure.
So we had a heading, set by a member of whose existence I was not convinced, and piloted by the least compassionate (though doubtless the strongest) element of myself. Yet surely, there was hope (indeed, I could see the compass’ shaky signal gaining power in the hand of Purpose as he held it), for Reason – the sharp-toothed fox (for that is what he is) – had given himself to rely on faith for his direction, and now humbled himself to allow Hope and Purpose to rule him. It is certain he could just as easily throw us all into the waters with Leviathan’s shadow, whom he – more often than I wanted to admit – agreed with.
Yet now the two companions Reason and Purpose looked at me expectantly. “How shall we move this vessel?” I asked, for I could see it had once been a great, and well-manned war vessel with enormous billowing sails, yet now it appeared a small wood dingy with room for only us three. It appeared to have no sails now at all, though I could see they existed but were in all of worse shambles than the map Reason had shown me – for what’s True is surely True and I, myself am in question.
“You must will us onward.” Purpose responded. At that response, I felt suddenly exhausted, so that I sat down.
I saw a vision of myself in my mind’s eye in a medical coma, surviving barely with autonomic responses only. “Is there no wind to push us?”
“The wind bloweth wherever it listeth. Thou hearest the sound thereof but cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth. So is everyone born of the Spirit.” Purpose responded.
Immediately Reason responded, snapping his jaws, and taking momentary resemblance of Leviathan’s shadow. “Indeed, where is your wind? Those born of the Spirit have it. Are you even saved at all? Perhaps you are driving us directly into the lake of fire!”
Before I could respond, Purpose raised his voice to Reason, and continued to quote the Words of the Master: “If any man believeth in me, he hath passed from death unto life.”
“Chapter and verse!” Reason barked at Purpose, knowing I did not have the precise wording, and reference memorized for that one. He then locked his wolf-fierce eyes back on me: “But all the good Christian people you know believe you to be in transgression! Your family, your church, even your friends – most of them.”
Again, Purpose rose to my defense: “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely because of me, for so treated they the prophets which were before you.”
Reason kept his cold, angry stare locked upon me, and did not this time respond directly to Purpose. “Assuming you’ve done as God willed you to, and are not deceived, or deceiving yourself.”
But this much I was sure of, that I had wrought in the integrity of my hands. Even if deceived, I was convinced I had done, and was doing in the will of God to my greatest ability. At knowing my thoughts Reason turned his angry gaze from me, and simply growled: “You may be awfully arrogant to assume yourself right and all the world wrong.”
The confrontation was over for the moment, but I knew it would resurface again, and again – this is the same argument we’ve been having for years. Purpose reached over and patted my knee to console me. “It’s good that old fox is on our side.” He said.
“Is he?” I snapped at him, with about as much ferocity as Reason had used on me. To this question Purpose made no reply, but smiled with a sad, weak smile, and looked down at his feet.
“Well?” Reason put in. “Shall we sit here forlorn about me, or have we the strength to go on?”
I must will us on then… hope had given us direction, though now as I looked back at the compass, I found its signal had waned, and it was shaky again. “What is it we’re making for, again?” And Reason glared the more angrily at Purpose.
“The Fountain.” Purpose replied.
I looked at Reason who nodded, and affirmed resolvedly, “The Fountain.”
I closed my eyes, and Purpose quoted: “‘Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto you.’ ‘When you seek me you shall find me, if you seek me with all of your heart.'” But my heart was so wounded… yet now I felt the ship moving, just slowly as though it had found a soft current.
I looked up, and both of my comrades were smiling – looking rather surprised at the beginning of our progress.
[If you are enjoying, this is part of a larger allegory project I’m working on which starts here, feel free to follow my blog for the continuation.]