Every stride causes excruciating pain. The hooks pull holes in his flesh, as he heaves his burden up to the steep stone steps. Through his lip, a skewer quivers as his breath becomes more laboured. This is it. The sharp instruments in his back are attached to a brass bowl of Kavadi, a milk offering for the Gods. Its humid, hot Malaysian weather, and beads of sweat start to form on his brow as the heat becomes too much. 272 steps to go. He is bonded by sin.
A couple years ago, I went to Malaysia for a holiday with my family. One thing will always stay etched in my memory. We decided to go have a look at the Batu caves, a massive natural complex used by Hindu worshippers.
The first thing we saw was an ornate golden statue of Lord Morugan, rising three stories above the ground. Beautiful carved temples are dotted around the base, and foreign music wafted around with the smell of burning incense. Little capuchin monkeys try to beg bananas off unsuspecting tourists, who have come to marvel at the scene.
After climbing up never-ending steps, I realise that this is only the beginning. Inside, the massive caves are full of shrines to hindu deities, and worshippers wearing red saris. A huge opening in the ceiling throws light on the whole scene. It’s like stepping into another world. This is how these people live, chanting prayers to their Gods, smearing ash on their foreheads and making yearly pilgrimages to show devotion.
I’d like to tell you of another journey, very similar to the first.
Jesus carried a crushingly heavy cross,
His forehead, pierced by a crown of thorns,
Soul burdened with sin not his own,
Because of him, I am set free.
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