Doubt and St. Thomas Didymus

cebacf85cf81ceb9ceb1cebaceae-cf84cebfcf85-ceb8cf89cebcceac-2Today, the first Sunday after Pascha, the Orthodox Church celebrates St. Thomas. We remember his doubt, his touching the risen Lord, and most importantly his declaration, “You are my Lord and my God.” The hymnography for this feast commemorates both Thomas’ doubt as well as the Lord’s revelation of his resurrection in the flesh.

“Today it smells like springtime, and new creation is dancing. Today the locks are removed from the doors and the disbelief of Thomas the friend who cries out, “You are my Lord and my God.” -Exaposteilaria for Sunday of St. Thomas

“O Thomas, according to your wish, handle Me,” said Christ to him. “Put out your hand, and be cognizant that I have flesh and bones, and an earthen body. Be not one who disbelieves. But rather with the others be confident.” And he in turn cried out, “You, O Jesus, are my Lord and God, and my Savior. Glory to Your resurrection.” -Praises from the Sunday of St. Thomas

Especially on this Sunday I am reminded of the poem “St. Thomas Didymus” by Denise Levertov. In her poem she exquisitely expresses both Thomas’ doubt as well as the beautiful revelation of the risen Lord. She draws a parallel between Thomas’ doubt and the epileptic’s father who exclaimed, “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.” Often, like Thomas, I struggle with doubts of my own. I often doubt that God will tend to me and provide for me as I walk the narrow way, stewarding my sexuality. I fear loneliness, rejection, isolation, and unhappiness as the result of my celibacy. However, I find much comfort in knowing that like Thomas I can express and speak aloud my doubts and like Thomas not be rejected for my doubt but met by the Risen Lord so I may cry, “You are my Lord and my God.”

St. Thomas Didymus 

By Denise Levertov

In the hot street at noon I saw him

a small man

gray but vivid, standing forth

beyond the crowd’s buzzing

holding in desperate grip his shaking

teethgnashing son,

and thought him my brother.

I heard him cry out, weeping, and speak

those words,

Lord, I believe, help thou

mine unbelief,

and knew him

my twin:

a man whose entire being

had knotted itself

into the one tight drawn question,

Why,

why has this child lost his childhood in suffering,

why is this child who will soon be a man

tormented, torn twisted?

Why is he cruelly punished

who has done nothing except be born?

The twin of my birth

was not so close

as that man I heard

say what my heart

sighed with each beat, my breath silently

cried in and out,

in and out.

After the healing,

he, with his wondering

newly peaceful boy, receded;

no one

dwells on the gratitude, the astonished joy,

the swift

acceptance and forgetting.

I did not follow

to see their changed lives.

What I retained

was the flash of kinship.

Despite

all that I witnessed,

his question remained

my question, throbbed like a stealthy cancer,

known

only to doctor and patient. To others

I seemed well enough.

So it was

that after Golgotha

my spirit in secret

lurched in the same convulsed writhings

that tore that child

before he was healed.

And after the empty tomb

when they told me He lived, had spoken to Magdalen,

told me

that though He had passed through the door like a ghost

He had breathed on them

the breath of a living man-

even then

when hope tried with a flutter of wings

to lift me-

still, alone with myself,

my heavy cry was the same: Lord,

I believe,

help thou mine unbelief.

I needed

blood to tell me the truth,

the touch

of blood. Even

my sight of the dark crust of it

round the nailholes

didn’t thrust its meaning all the way through

to that manifold knot in me

that willed to possess all knowledge,

refusing to loosen

unless that insistence won

the battle I fought with life.

But when my hand

led by His hand’s firm clasp

entered the unhealed wound,

my fingers encountering

rib-bone and pulsing heat,

what I felt was not

scalding pain, shame for my obstinate need,

but light, light streaming

into me, over me, filling the room

as if I had lived till then

in a cold cave, and now

coming forth for the first time,

the knot that bound me unravelling,

I witnessed

all things quicken to color, to form,

my question

not answered but given

its part

in a vast unfolding design lit

by a risen sun.

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