The Stuart Highway, near Kulgera NT 2016

Solace

She leaves with the children, first stop school, then work. He stands, pyjama clad, distressed, despairing, exhausted. The man of God, leader of his parish, lost in his dysfunctional family, destroyed before the day begins.

He sits against the bed-head, pillow jammed in the small of his back, and begins to read the Office. He reads all the words out loud, even the responses, even the ancient formulae in which he has no literal belief, and for which he has often no current interpretation. He sings the hymns and weeps. He pours out his heart to a listening God- clichés that nonetheless carry his naked honesty and pain. Even as he knows this listening God is a construct which sometimes makes no sense to him... and in which he cannot then believe. Because there is no one else to listen.

And in that hour of pain there comes solace. Energy to continue. Power to forgive. Will to go on. And even (was it truly there?) a Presence which loves.

April 2002


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