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The Prayer Seeker

It took Derek’s contact only a couple of weeks to trace Alan’s current whereabouts,
and Michael was taken aback that the whole process seemed so straightforward.
Evidently it was true that no-one in the world was ever really lost unless they wanted to
be, and even then there must be ways and means of tracing them. So he was grateful, and
happy to pay the ex-policeman, whose name was Mike coincidentally enough, then take
the information and mull over it.
It turned out that Alan had never moved that far from where Michael had met him,
living in north London for a further five years after Michael had left the city, and then
moving to Kent, near Maidstone, where he’d lived for well over twenty years. He worked
as the Head of Archaeology and History at a nearby college and was developing a
growing reputation in the area as an artist, a good one. He specialised in watercolours,
usually landscapes and, last year, he’d gone through a civil ceremony with his long-term
It was this latter piece of information that gave Michael most pause. He found it
unsettling, for reasons he couldn’t fully explain, although it also gave him pleasure that
Alan’s road through life seemed to possess such clarity and enjoyment. He wondered
how his own life would look if written down in this way on paper, and he reminded
himself that there was always far more to anything and anyone than mere words could
For a couple of days, he let the information lie, working its way through his mind
and his growing sense of purpose. He would act on it, yes, that much was obvious, and all
the more so as a response to the kindness of Derek and Mike. But he also needed to
decide on the best course of action, the one causing the least disruption to others, as
Anne-Marie had reminded him. In the midst of this deliberation, the purposes of God also
dwelt, and he could not forget those either.
Finally, one afternoon, whilst sitting in the garden with a jug of water and a book,
Michael wrote a letter. It took many attempts but eventually he came up with this:
Dear Alan
I hope this unexpected letter doesn’t trouble you too much, though I do understand
how much of a surprise it will probably be. In fact you may not remember me at all. My
name is Michael Woodthorpe and I knew you for a while in London when we were both
in our twenties, nearly thirty years ago, in the same church. Whilst our friendship was
unfortunately brief, I do remember clearly that I treated you very badly at the end, and I
would like to have the opportunity to apologise for that in person, if such a thing is even
I understand that you now have a civil partner and would like to offer my
congratulations to you both. My own marriage didn’t work out, but I’m now at a place in
my life where I’m exploring my faith more deeply once again and in a different context
(after many years of walking away from it). It was for this reason that I realised that I
had “unfinished business” with you, and had in fact done you an injustice which I would