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The Prayer Seeker

face God again, so it’s only recently that I’ve been exploring my faith once more. Which
has I suppose brought me to here, and this conversatoin with you.”
“But, Michael,” Alan said, “just because you’ve been avoiding God doesn’t mean
you’ve stopped being taken up with Him. Those two states aren’t mutually exclusive and
may in the end even be one and the same thing.”
Wisdom, when it arrived at a place or time, was always both shocking and the most
apposite thing in the world. That was Michael’s one thought as he took in what Alan had
said. More than that, it had been the same thing between them also: avoidance and
commitment, no matter what. O ne being the shadow of the other. If he had been
indifferent to either Alan or God, why would he have needed to avoid them at all, and for
so long?
“Yes,” he said quietly as Alan continued to gaze at him, but kindly. “Yes, I believe
you’re right.”
After that they ordered more coffee, ate at least some of those pastries and, most
important of all, talked more freely. Alan explained about his career in teaching over the
years, and also about his exhibitions, the high points and the low, the times when he sold
paintings and the times when nothing seemed to interest any buyer, however eager.
Michael thought he wouldn’t have enjoyed that kind of life himself, the demands and
expectations, but Alan seemed to thrive on it, using the low points wherever he met them
as an opportunity to change. Michael could only admire that.
Alan also talked about David, how they’d met about five years after he’d left the
church and London, through a mutual friend. It hadn’t been instant attraction, not like it
had been for Michael and his ex, but rather had grown through love of art, the theatre
and, of all things, old rock music. There was something, along with the art, that Michael
hadn’t known about his old friend, or at least hadn’t remembered.
In turn, Michael told Alan about his career, or rather his job; it wasn’t something that
could ever have been called a career, not in the proper sense of the word. He spoke,
again, about his wife, and about Ruth and, finally, he tried to explain about stepping away
from his life and learning to pray again.
When Alan found out that Michael had a spiritual director, one he saw regularly, he
laughed. “There! I told you. You’ve always been drawn to things godly, even when you
think you’re not.”
Michael shook his head but made no particular comment. When both men had
finished speaking, they smiled at each other. The quietness between them was easy and
measured, like a river flowing in season, beyond the first unsettling gush of fresh spring
To his own surprise, it was Michael who spoke first, and his words were peppered
with uncustomary boldness.
“Do you know,” he said. “I wondered if when I met you again, I might fall in love
with you properly this time. Though what that means about my sexuality and the fluid
nature of it, I still can’t possibly begin to say. I loved my wife, didn’t want anyone else
while I was with her. But here we are, I haven’t fallen in love, and I’m glad in a different
“You know how to flatter a man, that’s for sure,” Alan replied, raising his eyebrows
briefly, before becoming more serious again. “I’m glad too, Michael, for both our sakes:
David is far too much a part of my life for me ever to let him go now; and, as for you,