Unconditional means Unconditional

ImageThe entire encounter took place in about three seconds, but to Cain, it could have been an eternity.

First, a blinding light forced him to close his eyes. He felt like he was sinking into the ground, which he was, because he had fallen to his knees.

The first thing he heard that helped him realize what was happening was a tiny voice in his heart that said, “I love you, my son.”

When Cain opened his eyes, he was at the top of a magnificent ziggurat. Up so high that when he looked out he could see the entirety of the land. His feet were actually upon the topmost step, with only the pinnacle available before him. Upon that pinnacle there was a throne made of jade, and sitting upon that jade throne, a man in golden armor. The man… was crying.

I’m so sorry Cain. I have been with you since before you were born, and I have waited so long for the day that you would open your heart to me, release it from your bitterness.

“Where am I? Who are you?”

Do I really need to answer that?

“Are you… you can’t be… why would you…?”

Yes, I can, and because I love you.

“How can you love me? I am full of hatred, of murder… Oh… I killed my brother!”

If you were truly filled with hatred, you would not be here, my son. You opened your heart to me when you felt remorse for what you had done. It is the first step to repentance.

“No! No, you can’t love me. I am too horrible! I am wicked! From birth I have hated, I have been nothing but evil. It is my nature to be evil!”

CAIN! Who are you to know your own nature? Did you place your soul within your body? Did you lovingly craft every cell of flesh, every inclination, and every curious neuron? It was I, who made you Cain, and it was I who gave you your nature, and I know… it is not evil.

Shaking his head in confusion from the barrage of words unknown to him, Cain grasps the last sentence. “How could it not be? Look what I have done?”

What you have done, my son, is a most disturbing act, a desecration of all that I value and hope for in humanity. However, no matter how evil your actions, I will always love you. It was I who allowed you to choose to walk the path of darkness, and it was I who created a universe where darkness could exist. It was I who created humanity so fragile that it could be taken away by so many things. My reasons for these things are great and beyond what you could possibly comprehend. All you need to know is; I love you. I do not hate you for what you have done. I weep for you, for your dark path. Turn back to me, my son, follow my ways and you will be happy again.

“No! I could never be happy again. I have betrayed you, my family, and myself. I don’t deserve your love! I deserve to die as a punishment for my actions!”

The light began to fade then, as Cain pulled away from his creator.

Son, you don’t have to do this. I could never hate you. Abel is with me, he only hopes for your salvation from this, just as I do. He understands you now, and he does not hate you either. Don’t do this to yourself.

“It’s too late… You may love me, but I can’t…”

As the light fades completely to black, Cain sees one last movement from the man atop the pinnacle, his head falls into his hands, and he weeps.

After Cain awoke from blacking out, he broke from the eyes and arms of his family and ran back to his dwelling, collected his things, and left. Now that he knew that Abel had been right all along about “Being”, he only felt more hatred toward himself. The blood that he had spilled that day cried out to him, mocking him, taunting him, reminding him of his betrayal.

Cain walked away from home without looking back and with only one thought on his mind. He would find someone out there who could do what he didn’t have the strength to do, no matter how much he hated himself… kill him. He both feared and sought death. He knew there were others out there like him; men who found pleasure in death. That is where he belonged. With the cursed, those cursed by blood.

But no matter where he went, he would never forget that man, and how he wept for him, and how he said, “I love you”.

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The story of Cain and Abel has long been used to show God’s favoritism. Indeed, the scholarly opinion would suggest that the story was born as a method for alienating foreigners that the Hebrew people did not want to trust, or who they wanted to kill.

What I hear when I read the story is the beginning of something completely different; the beginning of mankind believing themselves to be fallen, broken, miserable creatures. Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, we sin. Yes, we spit at God.

However, unconditional means unconditional. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of our Father. God made us as we are, creatures capable of love and hate.

The thought that God would create a people, perfect only to fall and live thousands of years in the shadow of what they might have been, is cruel and sadistic and unlike a God of love.

We are the source of sin. We are the source of hate. We are the separation that exists between God and us. We are the love. We are the light. We are the hope for a brighter and more loving future. We are neither demons nor angels. We simply are what God made us. Perfectly imperfect.

The Deed

ImageIt had been six months since Cain first felt the thrill of control over another creature, but it hadn’t been his last.

He found excuses now to wander to the field, hoping to find an intruder, or to take a walk to the river to get water, hoping to see a critter moving so he might end its movement. Cain still knew that killing was wrong, but he also felt that he didn’t have control over anything else in his life.

To top everything off that’s gone wrong lately, that stupid brother of mine is getting married tomorrow! There isn’t anything good that will come of it, he isn’t even leaving home. He and Dad have been planning for weeks on what their new shelter is going to look like, but didn’t anyone ask me if I wanted to help? No! They wouldn’t want me interfering with their precious “father son time”.

And now I have to harvest my precious vegetables for a sacrifice to praise ‘Being’ on their wedding. I don’t give two craps about ‘Being’ or Abel’s wedding, why should I have to sacrifice my hard work for them?

It was that evening, as the sun was setting, that the ceremony was to take place. Cain had placed his least favorite, but not noticeably horrible, vegetables on his alter as Abel placed his largest lamb, tied and helpless, upon his own. It was then that Cain realized something horrible.

He’s… He’s going to kill that lamb! No! The thrill of taking life was all I had! The only thing that I didn’t have to share with anyone! Who is making him do this?

His agitation increased as Adam declared that it had been his idea to sacrifice a gift offering to ‘Being’. “How best to show our love for ‘Being’ than to give up that which we hold most dear?”

They were to act simultaneously, Cain burning his offering, Abel slitting the throat of his. However, the frenzy building inside Cain blinded him to any reality. As he lit his altar, he glanced over at his brother, who had a look on his face that to Cain could only be interpreted as rapture.

Nooooo!!! I want something for myself for once! Why ‘Being’!? Why do you hate me!? Why do you give Abel everything!? I won’t stand for it! I will be the only one who knows what it is to kill! And the only way for that to be true… is to… is to…

A fire rose from Cain’s feet, rapidly building through his legs, into his chest where his heart was bounding, flooding out to his hands that itched to do something, and finally into his head which felt as though it were melting, he couldn’t hear anything but the roaring of his own blood. He couldn’t see anything but a red haze around his brother, and he knew it was ‘Being’ accepting Abel’s offering, and spurning his own. In the blink of an eye, Cain acted. He lifted one of the heavy stones, left over from building the alters, and threw it at his brother’s head.

It took a few seconds for the fire to burn itself out, to begin to hear again, to see again, and to comprehend. His parents and his future sister in law had never seen anything to heinous, never even considered that something like this were possible.

As for Cain, he couldn’t take his eyes off of his brother’s bloody body. Half of him was expecting the rush of satisfaction, of control, of power to surge through him as it had done so many times before when he had killed, and it did come… but there was also something else. Cain had never killed a human, a person who was so like him, a being with feelings, with emotions, with whom Cain shared a past. Cain felt for the first time in his life… remorse.

It was as the remorse that quickly overwhelmed the power. Realization, guilt, and fear buzzed into his brain. Tears began to well into his eyes.

It was then, in the seconds as he felt remorse, as it buzzed in his mind, that the most miraculous and beautiful even occurred in Cain’s life. He met ‘Being’…

The Mind’s Voice

ImageWhat does Abel know anyway? I know how hard I try to talk to ‘Being’ and he certainly doesn’t. He gets everything and I get nothing!

Walking away from the painful meeting with his brother, Cain seeks out the comfort of the fields and the wind on his skin. The wind has always been a comfort for him, even when he was little. It makes his skin cool, and his blood warm, like being under a thick blanket on a frosty morning.

For instance, Abel is the first born, and so he’ll inherit everything from Dad! I’ll get nothing! That just isn’t fair! Or, how about that girl from the other village that Dad keeps going on about like they are already joined or something? Do you see him rushing out there to find a woman for me? NO! Because Abel is older, Abel is kinder; Abel is the beloved one of everyone, especially ‘Being’.

What scared Cain the most wasn’t his thoughts about Abel, or the heat rising in him that always came when he became impassioned about something, but this nagging voice inside him that kept a close eye on all of his thoughts and feelings. It wasn’t the watching, it was the judging. Cain could feel inside him when he had a thought that was good, and when he had a thought that was bad. He feared the bad thoughts more than anything because it proved he was unworthy of the love of ‘Being’, he knew those thoughts were part of why ‘Being’ had forsaken him.

Now among the vegetables Cain needed something to do with his fear, and just then he noticed a plump rabbit nibbling away at his cabbages.

My cabbages! I don’t care that Dad says we should let the animals eat what they like; he isn’t the one who planted these plants! These are mine and it’s my duty to protect them!

And so in fear, Cain picked up a rock, and flung it at the rabbit, striking it, and filled with pride as it flumped over from the blow.

Stumping over, Cain gloats, “So! I bet you’ll think twice before eating one of MY cabbag…”

It was at that moment that Cain realized what he had done… He had killed the rabbit.

The stone must have hit it in the head! I wasn’t aiming for the head, I was just so mad that life always goes against me, and this is proof!

That voice inside Cain told him that what he had done, accident or no, was wrong. It was an act of anger, unbridled passion, and he had intended to do harm. The problem was, he didn’t feel like it was bad.

His body felt alive for the first time in a long time. Everything tingled, he was so aware of every sound. The birds singing, the wind rustling the leaves of his beloved vegetable plants.

This must be what it is like for the wolf when it kills a sheep. Why does my body feel this way? I did something wrong, but I feel good about it? Is there something wrong with me? What would the others say if they found out? Psh, like that matters, no matter what I did it would be wrong to them. I bet if Abel has killed a rabbit they would praise him for his deed, and dad would probably throw him a party or something.

No, what am I talking about? What I did was wrong.

But what I am feeling is good, gah! This is so confusing!

I have no one to talk to, they will only judge me. ‘Being’ doesn’t talk to me; mom and dad just praise Abel all the time. I need to do something about this energy I have… I wonder if there are more rabbits around here?

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And so it was that Cain discovered that our natures possess passion for more than simply good, but also evil. It is the beauty and curse of humanity to possess the potential for both light and dark. Without this potential, nothing that we chose or acted would be truly free, only guided by our natures. It is this same potential that traps the mind in endless loops of depressing thoughts, or rains negative criticism from inside our own minds down upon us, because pain can release pleasure in us.

 

It is also the beauty of humanity and our nature, that it is not good for us to be alone. It is possible to overcome these thoughts, it is possible to see the light on the other side of the fence, but it is very difficult without support, without a community of people to lend you strength and counter your fears with joy. If you have thoughts like this, first know that nothing is wrong with you, that others have gone through similar situations. Also know, however, that you cannot do this alone no matter what your fears tell you. Tell someone you love, or call 1-888-771-5166 and find a community of support near you.

 

Never forget, you are loved, and you are not alone.