Dear Lord – The prayer from A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Following Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAdam, I decided to try another dystopian future book by Margaret Atwood. I picked A Handmaid’s tale from the bookshelf and I can’t put it down. Despair is interwoven with a strong desire to die. The handmaid is a captive, with no other purpose as to produce children for the barren Wives, a walking womb.

 

I pray where I am, sitting by the window, looking out through the curtain at the empty garden. I don’t even close my eyes. Out there or inside my head, it’s an equal darkness. Or light.

Offred praying
Offred praying

My God. Who Art in the Kingdom of Heaven, which is within.

I wish you would tell me Your Name, the real one I mean. But You will do as well as anything.

I wish I knew what You were up to. But whatever it is, help me to get through it, please. Though maybe it’s not our doing: I don’t believe for an instant that what’s going on out there is what You meant.

I have enough daily bread, so I won’t waste time on that. It isn’t the main problem. The problem is getting it down without choking on it.

Now we come to forgiveness. Don’t worry about forgiving me right now. There are more important things. For instance: keep the others safe, if they are safe. Don’t let them suffer too much. If they have to die, let it be fast. You might even provide a Heaven for them. We need You for that. Hell we can make for ourselves.

I suppose I should say I forgive whoever did this, and whatever they’re doing now. I’ll try, but it isn’t easy.

Temptation comes next. At the Center, temptation was anything much more than eating and sleeping. Knowing was a temptation. What you don’t know won’t tempt you, Aunt Lydia used to say.

Maybe I don’t really want to know what’s going on. Maybe I’d rather not know. Maybe I couldn’t bear to know. The Fall was a fall from innocence to knowledge.

I think about the chandelier too much, though it’s gone now. But you could use a hook, in the closet. I’ve considered the possibilities. All you’d have to do, after attaching yourself, would be to lean your weight forward and not fight.

Deliver us from evil.

Then there’s Kingdom, power, and glory. It takes a lot to believe in those right now. But I’ll try it anyway. In Hope, as they say on the gravestones.

Corinne Molenhoff as Offred
Corinne Molenhoff as Offred

You must feel pretty ripped off. I guess it’s not the first time.

If I were You I’d be fed up. I’d really be sick of it. I guess that’s the difference between us.

I feel very unreal talking to You like this. I fee as if I’m talking to a wall. I wish You’d answer. I feel so alone.

All alone by the telephone. Except that I can’t use the telephone. And if I could, who could I call?

Oh God. It’s no joke. Oh God oh God. How can I keep on living.

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