The Sins of My Father – Christine E. Ray

I have always been a dreamer. Waking hours filled with daydreams of a younger, more vibrant self living other, more exotic lives that take the edge off the stupor of middle-age suburbia. Sleeping hours filled with images of places I have been before that morph and change, nightmarish Wonderlands, and places I have never been that haunt me just the same. Some nights I languish in cages built of my rigid small town girlhood; other nights I am prey climbing out of impossibly small, high windows, crawling through rough stone tunnels, hiding behind faux fireplaces on the run for my life. Or at least for my freedom.

Some dreams find me on my knees, lips and tongue forming the shape of silent prayers, fingers anxiously reading the silver chains that confine me like a blind woman’s rosary. My waking self is a recovered Catholic who rarely walks through the doors of a church willingly. In solitary rebellion, I refuse to kneel and sing loudly to myself to drown out the traitor chorus of “Our Fathers,” “Hail Marys,” and “Amens” that play in my head. They are etched more deeply onto my impressionable neurons than high school calculus or chemistry ever were.

I envision a grim future where I will forget my deep distrust of organized religion but my muscles will still remember how to genuflect like the most devout of believers. It strikes me as cruelly ironic that dementia may one day steal my lifelong oppositional defiance but that the empty rituals of Catholicism will never die. I have always suspected the Christian-Judeo god of being a wily bastard, always needing to have the last word.

The shadow filled rooms are always too cold, the kneeler cushions too thin and covered in grit. Debris digs into my bare skin, leaving odd-shaped impressions, Rorschachs of sin to be interpreted at another time. Frankincense and myrrh a miasma of smoke that makes my eyes tear, my throat itch.

It is never clear to me who I am praying to. Have I made peace with a monotheistic god in these dreams or do the Goddess and Green Man listen to my entreats? What I am praying for is also a mystery. I only know that I bow my head in atonement.

Mea culpa
Mea Culpa
Maxima Culpa

Christine E. Ray lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A former Managing Editor of Sudden Denouement Publications, she founded Indie Blu(e) Publishing with Kindra M. Austin in September 2018. Ray is the author of Composition of a Woman and The Myths of Girlhood. Her writing is also featured in We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art, Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, Swear to Me, and All the Lonely People. Read more of her work at

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on Brave & Reckless and commented:

    My first piece on Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen


  2. bobcabkings says:

    I read of prayer and think first of this:

    O happy living things! no tongue
    Their beauty might declare:
    A spring of love gushed from my heart,
    And I blessed them unaware:
    Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
    And I blessed them unaware.

    The self-same moment I could pray;
    And from my neck so free
    The Albatross fell off, and sank
    Like lead into the sea.
    [from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge]

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I must admit that The Rime of the Ancient Mariner did not cross my mind while I was writing this but I can see why it would bring to mind the Albatross

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bobcabkings says:

        The Mariner comes to my mind a lot. We all carry an Albatross or two at times.

        My second go-to is:

        “Most people do not pray; they only beg.”
        George Bernard Shaw

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Ah, a truth indeed

        Liked by 1 person

  3. bobcabkings says:

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    Christine Ray comes to Heretics, Lovers, And Madmen bringing a story of a life in and out of church.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ogden Fahey says:

    I was daydreaming the other day that I went to church and every time we rose to sing a hymn, I would so a nazi salute – people asked me wy I was doing it, and I just tell them it felt right – oh well, got to amuse myself somehow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure you occupied the minds of many in the congregation!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ogden Fahey says:

        That would do it!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Kindra M. Austin says:

    Reblogged this on Kindra M. Austin and commented:

    Christine gets it today on HL&M.


  6. Kindra M. Austin says:

    This is heavy bangin, Christine. I love it, and that ending is a gut punch! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you K-love! It took a while for it come together but I captured what I was going for. Finally.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kindra M. Austin says:



  7. Jack Neece says:

    This is tragic and beautiful. Well done indeed. I could feel every part of this.


    1. Thank you so much Jack!


  8. Jamie Lynn Martin says:

    I love how your writing really lets the reader into your head. Beautiful write!♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Jamie Lynn!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s