Not being a saint.


I am studying The Kite Runner with A Level students and am finding it intellectually rewarding. I had read this novel a number of years ago and enjoyed it. In essence, it was a biblical narrative that dealt with sin and redemption. For one with a Jesus complex, this was manna from heaven. I remember reading it, enjoying it, but not alloting it any great status on the pantheon of significant writing.

I have since changed my judgement.

It is not, however, the redemption of Amir (the protagonist) which concerns me, but my own.

Let’s keep this clear right from the off that I have not committed any sin, unless pride and blindness can be counted. My fall from grace was determined by my traumatic burnout, the wildfire that burnt quickly and ravenously in order to wipe the previous landscape from my world. As with all wildfires, the charred earth has begun to recover, regrow, repopulate. To an extent, I have been reborn but without the need to wear nappies or scream when I cannot articulate my needs. I have gone through purgation, purification and renovation.

It was biblical on a very personal level.

The drugs hazed me. I had visions (ish) and I made my vows to live a very different life. Along with rediscovering myself, I realised that the act of teaching was possibly a dangerous pastime. The system made for uncaring leaders and casually cruel students whose crimes of self-centred sadism could drive the Holy Ghost towards the Holy Spirit. Into this, I floated, forgiving one and all for their misguided intentions. I was a wet flannel of a man who understood and forgave. What a tosser!

In many ways the recovery from a breakdown can imitate the biblical structure of many a redemptive narrative:

Paradise.      Sin.      Suffering.    Redemption.     Rebirth.

Oh praise be me as I have been delivered from the kingdom of the damned. But, in being delivered, do I owe a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid through sainly empathy and even more divine acceptance?

The further away from the breakdown I get the more and more I find myself taking on some of my old habits of thought. I have a sometimes cruel wit which I share only with those nearest me. I find that it tickles my Lucifer Bone and makes the whole business of not being overly nice much more bearable. Indeed, the whole business of not having to have saintly understanding and empathy frees me to be that thing that I thought I had previously lost, myself.

So here I stand in the remains of a previous life, looking out to whatever is coming my way. I have no permanent work, no security, no faith that would tell me that everything will work itself out in the end. But I have suffered and survived.


Not many saints get to say that.


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