Friday, February 10, 2006
St Mary Moorfields
Richard Finch, a man adrift in what he believes is a godless universe, drawn by an impulse he does not understand, stops into a small Catholic church hidden between shops in the heart of the city. There he lights a candle for his late father. He feels immeasurably sad, just for a second, and then his heart is filled with a strange, swooping gratitude. The sensation remains with him out onto the street. It's a clear cold day towards the end of a London winter. Finch walks back to work. The urge to give thanks recurs intermittently throughout the afternoon but his established lack of faith does not allow him anyone to thank. Eventually he tells himself, out loud:-
"That was a good thing that you did. It made you feel and remember good things. You should do it again."
Finch is not a stupid man, and he realises that this behaviour is an odd kind of rationalisation. Later he will find arguments, parallels that explain away, at least in part, what he has experienced. An example - If you were to visit a bar in a foreign city and you found yourself having a great time you might resolve to revisit that bar when you are next in that city - but nothing in his existing understanding can account for that itch for praise, for thanksgiving.