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April 2018, vol 14 no 1

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Jonathan McKeown


Here in the pew it’s hard to tune in, to open. There’s resistance in me, resentment. Feelings of disgruntlement and disappointment at God’s seeming indifference. Exasperated by all those words and gestures that persistently assume His love and goodness despite their apparent absence. I remain silent during the hymns and common prayers. The service ends . . . I’m wandering among people I’m supposed to spend eternity with . . . making usual small talk . . . and out of a strange clearing, striding toward me, comes G–: Hey brother, shaking my hand, Can I talk to you a minute? I’d like your advice about something. We go outside, away from the hubbub of the morning tea crowd where he shares something of his burden: getting off methadone, not being able to sleep, how this is affecting his relationships ... I feel oddly receptive, humbled at his humility, open to his unusual honesty. I tell him: I was thinking of going to the beach . . . if you’d like to come. His face lights up – as if an honour had just been conferred on him.

Afterwards, it occurs to me how uplifted, soothed, restored I feel; that I’m experiencing something like – joy.

shadowing the beach
      a passing cloud