The Prayer Seeker
When the time came to go up to receive communion, he didn’t even hesitate. He
believed it. He responded to it in a way he’d never responded to anything before. It never
occurred to him until later that he wasn’t confirmed, that this was a fact that both Tony
and the vicar were well aware of, and that he was therefore not entitled to receive
communion at all.
He knelt at the altar rail, put out his hands and waited. The one word reverberating
round his thoughts was simply this: please. The vicar never even hesitated; he placed the
wafer into Michael’s fingers and said the words as Michael chewed and swallowed it
down: the body of Christ preserve your body and soul to everlasting life. A few moments
later, the wine was given to him in the same manner. The blood of Christ preserve your
body and soul to everlasting life.
It was this generosity, this willingness to break church law without any second
thought, purely to give him what he so desperately wanted and to avoid the humiliation of
refusal that would no doubt have driven him out of the church for good that Michael
always remembered, through all the joyful and difficult years that followed. At the time,
it did not occur to him. He merely swallowed the wine, acknowledging the yes that now
filled his mind, got to his feet and walked back to his pew.
He wasn’t entirely sure but he thought he might have been smiling.
Here and now, in Chris’s expansive living room, he sighed and finished speaking.
The effort of telling how he had unaccountably come to faith had drained him, but the
exhaustion was good not wearisome.
He looked at the other man, holding his gaze. Not challenging, but steady.
“Yes,” he said, “Thank you for that, Michael. If you would still like to then, I think
we can do much work together here.”
At home, Michael felt the need to do something. Chris had made arrangements to
meet with him in two weeks’ time and then in another two weeks to see how things were
going. That suited him as it gave him structure and a purpose, a way forward to his
search. But in the meantime, he had to do something. The director had suggested a
regular prayer time and books to read, and he’d made a note of these. Chris had suggested
some psalms too. Michael found his bible in the living room, lying forgotten at the end of
one of his bookshelves. He smiled as the hard brown cover of his old New International
Version eased into his fingers. It felt dusty, abandoned, even though he did flick through
it each day. It had been so long since he’d opened it in a committed frame of mind, and of
course it was the first place he should have gone to when he made this decision, but for a
variety of reasons, he hadn’t made that step. Somehow he knew he would have to
consider that decision and the truths behind it more deeply, but not now. Now, he simply
wanted to read this book again, properly. Odd how from nowhere he would have said he
ached for it, if he’d been accustomed to such a description.
So he turned to the first psalm number he’d jotted down during his introductory
meeting with Chris. Psalm 63. There he read this: