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The Prayer Seeker


came easily flooding back, how would that change his life? He’d made one significant
alteration and he wasn’t sure how he would deal with another. That was the trouble with
God, he thought – not the seeking after Him, but the finding. That, as they say, was the
rub.
Michael sighed and shook such thoughts out of his head as there was little point in
worrying about the future too much. The present had enough worries of its own. Instead
he showered, dressed and began making himself breakfast, all the time trying to leave his
mind as clear as possible.
The kitchen seemed different today. Though more likely it was he who was different
and nothing about his flat had changed. A small space, really room for o ne only, to his
mind. During the time that Ruth, his last girlfriend, had lived here it had always felt
crowded. Michael liked to be in the kitchen alone when he prepared food or cooked. Not
that he was any kind of expert, his culinary repertoire being nar row by any measure, but
it had always been a chance to step out of the demands of the day, or whatever else was
going on in his life, and to do something nominally creative and also controlled. Creative
in the sense that he could take disparate ingredients and blend them together into
something else entirely, like an artist with a pallet of paints; controlled because if he
followed each step logically then satisfaction would result. Ruth would have laughed at
him at that description and told him it was his accountancy background. Still, perhaps in
the way he’d just thought of it, it was a kind of meditation in itself.
So on the first day of his prayer seeking life, Michael took oats and blended them
with just the right amount of milk, water and sugar. He set the kettle to boil and poured
himself a fruit juice that he drank whilst the porridge was heating up. He didn’t turn on
any music – he kept no radio in the kitchen in any case, which was another habit Ruth
had teased him about. His only radio was kept in the living room, but now she’d departed
he rarely turned it on. He preferred to go through his days in silence as it made him feel
more real, even whilst alone.
The porridge began to bubble and pop in the pan, and he turned the heat down to a
simmer. Reaching for his supply of teas, he hesitated for a moment before choosing the
Dragonfly Redbush Cape Malay. The smell of it always made him smile: cinnamon,
ginger, cardamom, cloves. Just the right amount of additional spices to enhance and not
overpower the taste, it was one of those rare teas that were as good to drink as to smell.
Most others, even though he enjoyed them, hid their hearts in the aroma alone. Now he
unwrapped the teabag and dropped it into his dark green breakfast cup, a present from
friends he no longer saw. He added the water and left it to seep.
He ate breakfast slowly, as he had nowhere to rush to. The weekend was free and the
following week stretched out like a long cool expanse of water. As he ate, the fragile
winter light glittered through the trees opposite his window. Was that a prayer too, he
wondered? Some kind of connection with a world beyond himself and the chance to
respond to a physical stimulus: light, warmth, the pleasure of the food in his mouth. It
was a possibility but he didn’t think he was ready yet to explore it further. Best take
things one stage at a time, if he wanted to do this properly.
When he’d finished his meal, he cleared up, deciding to wash the few pieces of
crockery by hand as usual and leave them to dry. O ver the years, he’d often been asked
about getting a dishwasher, but he’d always thought there was little point when it came to
the needs of one person. He’d even thought that during the years he’d been married, and
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