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The Prayer Seeker


resolved. God forgive me, I even thanked him for his prayers and his advice. When Alan
didn’t return to the church, nobody said anything about it at all; it was as if he’d never
existed. And the worst thing was that neither did I say anything. I thought I’d obeyed
God, but really I was just making an easy life for myself. And look at me now: here I am
pretending to be a good man seeking out the things of the Spirit when in fact it’s based on
nothing but a sham and a lie. Why would God want to communicate with me if I can’t
even be honest with myself?”
His spiritual director allowed those words to lie as they were for a few moments, an
act for which Michael was grateful. He needed time to regroup, as his former manager
would have said. Thinking of Douglas in this context made him smile, and crystallised a
slew of facts in his head.
“The other issue is,” he said, looking directly at Chris, “that I’m not even sure I’m
gay in any case. Not completely. It was only with Alan that I thought I could be, or might
want to be. Later, that side of things with my wife was good, surprisingly so, though I’ve
never really seen myself as someone like that. I’m just an ordinary man and my marriage
lasted longer than I ever thought it would. The odd thing is that I’ve never wondered
what would have happened, how Alan and I might have been, if I hadn’t given in to the
church’s attitude. I always knew, as I told my wife, that in the end I was meant to be
alone. But my path to here hasn’t been a kind one, not to others. Do you see what I
mean?”
Chris nodded and relaxed back into his chair. Michael was grateful for the sense of
space and acceptance that came flowing in.
“Yes,” Chris said when the atmosphere was quite calm once more. “You’ve raised a
lot of matters here, Michael, but the main one, if I understand what you’re telling me, is
your concept of how the past is affecting the present. Your relationship with Alan, no
matter what the nature of it was or should have been, has never been resolved, and you
count that as something holding you back. You might even want to resolve it in some
fashion. How does that sound?”
Michael stared at him. It felt as if a whole mass of co nflicting needs within him had
been taken, straightened out and returned in a far more manageable form. Chris had a gift
indeed.
“Yes,” he said, slowly. “That sounds right. I think it’s what I’m saying. I need to
think about it, pray about it even, as long as I’m not using prayer as avoidance. God
forgive me if I am as it’s something I’ve always hated.”
Chris nodded and not long after that the session ended. It was usual for the spiritual
director to close their time together with a few moments’ silence and then a brief prayer,
often picking up on whatever subjects they had been discussing. Michael had never
prayed aloud with him before, but had simply sat and listened and joined in with the final
amen.
Now, however, Chris coughed and smiled at Michael.
“I was wondering if this time you’d like to pray as we come to the end,” he said.
“Feel free to say no.”
His first instinct was to refuse as, after all, his prayer life was a quiet one, something
private between him and God, and not to be opened up for public consumption. But he’d
come to view Chris as a friend, though one with a professional basis to the friendship.
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