The Prayer Seeker
lively and interactive, but it still felt more like a way of life he ought to want, rather than
something he actually did. He wondered if even then he had gone through the motions
with his religion as much as he did with his career. Perhaps he had never fully moved on
from the suspicion that his life, his self perhaps, was in hiding elsewhere, caught where
he could not find it.
At home, he put the kettle on and took his mug of coffee upstairs to bed. He wanted
to change into his night clothes and he wanted to read his bible. Yes, he remembered that
clearly. It was in the bedroom that it happened.
He drew the curtains, put his coffee on the bedside table, and reached for the bible,
his mind already turning to the possibility of the psalms. He’d always loved them.
The next moment, he was on his knees, body shaking, eyes wet. He was murmuring
over and over again, like a chant: oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God. Not even a prayer,
but more like a plea. Stupid words, ridiculous, meaning nothing, but he couldn’t prevent
himself from saying them. His skin felt hot, his mind in freefall. This shouldn’t be
happening, he didn’t even know what this was, but he couldn’t control it. Neither did he
want it to stop.
He collapsed onto the floor, stretched out as if begging for mercy from someone he
couldn’t see, someone with the power to kill him or spare him. He didn’t know which.
He’d seen a television programme once, some while back, about a woman joining a
convent and had been disturbed to see her face down and stretched out in the form of the
cross in front of the Abbess during the initiation ceremony. Legs together but arms placed
as wide from her body as possible. Back then, it had made him feel uncomfortable,
almost embarrassed that she had to go through that to get what she wanted. Now it
seemed like the most natural position in the world. He wanted to try it, but the room
wasn’t wide enough, at least not in the space between the narrow single bed and the
window, which was where he’d fallen. He didn’t know if he was even capable of moving,
not at that moment. His body wouldn’t allow it.
His whispers changed then, from the name of God, to another more immediate need.
“I want … I want … I want …”
He didn’t know precisely what it was he did want. Nothing for himself, not right
now. His self was incapable of receiving anything but the powerful waves of heat
flooding his mind and body over and over again. He could focus on nothing but them. If
anything, he wanted to be lower, more stretched in entreaty than he currently was. He
wanted for the first time to be humbled, to the core, to the full, as long as he could get
more of this feeling and more of this encounter. He never wanted it to end.
Suddenly, as if someone had opened a door in his mind and stepped easily through, it
was there. The beginning of Psalm 42:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Where can I go and meet with God?
He chanted the words over and over again, just as he’d chanted the name of God at
first. It answered a part of his wanting, slaking if only a little the sudden and