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The Prayer Seeker

That evening, when he sat in his car for the final drive home, Michael laughed. His
mind felt clear and his body poised. For what? Adventure? Something deeper? He hoped
so. He hoped for all of that, and so much more.
At home, he poured himself a whisky. He wasn’t a monk after all then, nor likely to
be one either, no matter what Douglas thought. It tasted golden and deep on his tongue as
he gazed round the front room of the small flat he owned. He saw shelves lined with
books he’d gathered over the years, the comfortable cream leather sofa and matching
chairs, the antique coffee table with what he imagined was its cigar-stub blemish made by
gentlemen from a grander age. He gazed too at the simple wooden table where he took
his meals, the pictures on his walls: one of the town he lived in and another of an outside
set of white stairs leading to a garden. He focused on it for a few moments, drank it in
along with the whisky.
It felt important. Perhaps that was where he was now: at the bottom of a set of white
steps leading upwards to a garden and the promise of light. The stairs were plain,
unadorned except for a strand or two of deep pink clematis trailing over the edges. He
hoped his journey, wherever it took him, might be like that: simple and strong, with now
and again an encounter with colour. But he couldn’t tell, no he couldn’t tell at all.
He took another sip of the whisky and afterwards rested the glass on the table in
front of him. Then, slowly and with a distinct quiver of personal embarrassment he could
do nothing to quell, he moved to one side and got down on his knees. There he waited,
but no divine revelation struck him and no still small voice whispered in his ear. So, after
a while, he laced the air with words himself.
“There, I’ve done it,” he whispered. “I’m finally alone, though I don’t know what to
do. Not really. So, tell me, what happens now?”
Of course there was no answer, or at least not that evening. And, after a while, he’d
risen from his knees and gone about his usual evening routine. Cooking a simple supper,
reading – he was currently enjoying Antonia Fraser’s biography of Cromwell – and
trying to complete the odd crossword puzzle or two. He knew he was no intellectual and
he certainly didn’t attempt the high-class crosswords, but he enjoyed the challenge
nonetheless. After that, he’d gone to bed.
Today, he was facing the first morning of his new seeking existence but so far it
wasn’t proving easy. In terms of last night, Michael didn’t know what he’d expected or if
he’d expected anything at all. He used to be more confident about receiving answers to
prayer as in his youth, prayer had had a value and a purpose. But over the years, without
his even noticing its absence that much, the sense o f purpose and connection had
withered away. He wondered if that was to do with his poor recent record of church-
going, but knew this was too simplistic an answer. Now he could take what to him felt
like a momentous step in his life and also smile wryly at his own sense of embarrassment
and being out of place.
After all, he might have made the decision to search for his prayer life and somehow
go back to where he’d last seen it, but that didn’t guarantee that God would be quite so
willing to be found. Indeed, if suddenly everything he’d once known and experienced