“…. Who am I, O’ Lord God…?”
“The woman’s fire?” inquired the boy. He nodded, and the naked feet had sprung away. He came back with his lamp, locked his door hastily, and sat down in his chair, covering his face like one who was frightened at himself. For now he was indeed, alone. Alone, alone.” (The Haunted Man, C. Dickens)
Redlaw had made a deal with the spectra that would part him from all memory of his past. But his deal would leave him with more of less than he bargained for. Because he could no longer remember his past he could not identify with who he was and now meaninglessness was his only companion and it offered no comfort. One of the greatest loneliness’s is no memory. For the one thing that will defuse the haunting of loneliness is the company of memories. Yet man wonders in his loneliness simply because he is plagued by any clear memory of who he was and in this floundering he gropes about like a vagabond trapped in timelessness. Darkness clothes him and the musty smell of his beleaguered state only numbs the senses of any record of the lofty place that once abided him. Miserable old man is stranger to his own world because even his world has seemed to have been robbed of the memory of the pageantry of his high state he had once held. He may rummage through the dingy cellar of his own inner self but he finds no artifacts that will jog his memory. He may employ the company of another miserable companion but neither can he give him solace to his misery. Man is the monstrosity that Chesterton described him as and the monster of iniquity that Reidhead discovered him to be. But he is so because he has been deformed and molested by the loneliness of his own company and no memory to comfort himself by. There is none but one who can define who he is and sweep away the shackles of solitude from the recesses of the haunted misery. He is poised as the Sovereign Divine that dispels the darkness and restores what the cankerworm has eaten.
As David lifted his head to gaze upon the grace of God that had chosen him, it was the key of humility that turned the tumblers and sprung open the door of meaning and memory. See here that memory brings with it the vision of who he was; “made in the image of God” and now in this state because he had fallen from the grace of God. David says; “who am I … because he knows that it is only God who can define him. It is only God who can rest the darkness of alone from the heart and mind and plant the sweet memory of; “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” True, David is here humbled by the great favor that God has bestowed on him and his descendents. But it is precisely this that points to his miserable state. For it is God’s grace and presence that reveals the memories and awful descent that man has fallen upon. Alone will he remain if never God had revealed, alone he will remain if never he takes the key of humility in hand to spring open the door of memory that reminds him of who he was. Alone he shall remain without God. Meaning and memory are the trinkets of life that accompany the man who has found the definition of himself in the revelation of God. Misery, madness, meaninglessness are the shackles that torment the vagabond who shuns the invitation to pick up the key of humility and hear; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will open I will come in and sup with him and he with me.” Hear the echoes of their moaning; “alone, alone, alone.
The Rev. Ray Druckenmiller is the Pastor at Manning Community Church.