A Re-Dreamed Church...


C
hristianity is a young girl wearing too much make-up, too many jewels.

When she was a child she was beautiful. Naked, she ran through the city streets, celebrating her life, her virginity, her freedom...

One day she looked at herself in the mirror. Carefully, she inspected her clean and wild beauty. Her hair wrapped around her shoulders; dark locks partly hid her face. He skin was soft and olive, dark from the sun she played in day after day. After her labored inspection, she looked around herself at the people bustling by. Businessmen, ladies and servants: they were all clothed and stylized and intent on tasks to be finished. Even the children were covered in popular, colorful attire. For the first time ever, Christianity felt naked. Returning to the mirror, she brushed delicate fingers across smooth skin... Dirty, she thought. Her hand touched her cheek. Ugly. Unfashionable and offensive.

Christianity searched through others’ castaway clothing, lying in an alley. She found a tattered dress and slipped it on. It was colorful and gawdy and far too big for her small form. She found a leather belt and strapped it around her wait, cinching in the excess fabric the dress allowed. Next she found a pair of shoes. Once they had been worn for dancing, but the toes were worn through and the color long since faded. She put these on as well, though they were tight and constricted her feet. She found a pile of discarded, faux-jewelry. These items, she placed on every part of her exposed body.

Christianity hobbled down cobblestone walkways now, uncomfortable but desperately focused on appearing normal to those who passed. Two young men laughed at her and pointed from across the street. One hurled a piece of rotted fruit straight at her. She called after them, pleading for them to stop as the fruit splattered across her chest and neck. Her language seemed too simple and quaint for their ears and the men seemed confused and walked away. Embarrassed at her simple dialect, Christianity wiped the rot from her body and kept walking, practicing the words her mockers used against her moments ago.

Rain began to fall.

Pathetic and miserable, Christianity found a street corner with a covered marquee hanging over. She ducked underneath and prayed the storm would not last. At her feet she watched drops of water form into a dark puddle, and as the lights of the marquee above shone down she saw her reflection once more in the water. It was ghastly. She had become a shadow of the beauty she remembered earlier that day. Her skin looked pale and sagged from her cheeks. Her eyes seemed hollow and lifeless. Even her wet hair appeared weak and dead as it caked to her cheeks and neck.

A simple thought crossed Christianity’s mind: if she only took off these ridiculous clothes, kicked off the confining shoes and tore the imitation jewels from her body... perhaps the ugliness would fade. But she could not bring herself to reject the flotsam she had accumulated.
What if I appear worse than ever? She obsessed.

Instead, Christianity picked herself up off the pavement and began searching for more baubles to adorn herself. Lipstick tossed aside. A child’s broken, plastic locket. Eye shadow and rouge.
Christianity held these worthless possessions in her hands as if her life depended on them. She applied the makeup and fastened the locket around her neck, but as she brought her hands back down a glint from a finger caught her eye. It was her finger, and like some forgotten dream, she remembered what was there. It was a ring.

Since infancy, Christianity had worn this ring - a promise of betrothed love. She had never seen the lover whom the ring entailed, but His letters reminded her of a wedding yet-to-be.
Suddenly she looked down at her covered body, her muted beauty, her shamed purity. Tears came now, washing away the red blush, the purple eyeliner and the white paste that covered her fragile skin.

Slowly, ashamed at first, she removed the belt from around her waste. Her heart began to pound. Can I be unadorned once more? She slipped off the shoes and felt a rush of glee as blood returned to her cramped toes. Will I be what I was before? Trembling, she dropped the faux-jewelry to the ground and slipped out of the stained, wrinkled dress.

Naked, Christianity looked around to see crowds of people gathered. Watching. Where once she had been invisible or worse, a sad joke, now her beauty brought attention like sunlight. Transfixed, the gathering bathed in the effervescent glow of Christianity’s disrobed light. Such rediscovered chastity brought tears to some - cries of delight from others.

Some were too overwhelmed to endure such reclaimed innocence and fled to their own ruin. Most, however, stayed with guileless passion, won over by the transformation they, themselves witnessed. The cynics and agnostics who had scoffed at the tawdry harlot early that same day now wept openly. They loved this child-bride and found hope in her unassuming honesty.

Never again would she wear the clothing of the city streets.

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