The prodigal father…

Our daughter Eleanor died on 21st April of this year.


You asked about my relationship with God

now, and since it is a present fact, you’ll find it odd

I can’t answer you directly, but it should not surprise you

since even Jesus chose to use parables as a device to

communicate the indefinable. And I found a narrative

In yesterday’s BBC news, which seems to me to give

an image of my history with the One I still call Father

although this name is dirt for sisters who would rather

Say mother or abandon all this parental claptrap.

Doubtless a painter could make a painting or a geographer a map

of God, but as a lover of words I am stuck with stories.

“MatJames Metson was born to a family of artists whose mores

Meant never settling down. He inherited their energy and art.

When he was sixteen he loved a girl called Selanie and they were part-

-ners for a while until she was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter,

Naming her Tyler. When MatJames held her he knew he ought to

Share her upbringing but felt fear like a great load on his shoulders

And ran and kept on running till he came to New Orleans. Bolder,

He wanted to be bolder, but first he had to learn how to be. He could

Paint and make decorated objects using metal or plastic or wood,

Which were full of life and charm like himself as he grew, befriended

By people in the French quarter. He prospered, was happy until it all ended

With Hurricane Katrina, which tore the city to bits and left him with nothing

But his two dogs. A friend brought him to LA but he wasn’t coping

Alone in a tenement flat surrounded by rats and drug dealers

Empty, mourning his former friends, unable to put out feelers

In the city of angels to touch new life, he thought of killing

Himself, but even that demanded a process of willing

He could not provide. He sat blankly looking at a blank wall.

His phone rang and a voice said, hello, I’m Tyler. Oh, he said, all

These years I hoped you’d call. As they spoke, he could sense creativity

Flooding into him, once more he was plugged into the electricity

Of life. She said she’d phone again, he knew the load had gone, he’d

Run no more, but be a maker, and make himself a father she’d

Be proud of. She came to him and he to her and both delighted

To share the other with families and friends. And all that mighty

Surge of joy, he says, came from a phone-call out of nowhere

Into nothing, from his child.” You may think it’s a blasphemy

To tell this of me and God; that any proper theological system we

Devise must make God the saviour and ourselves the needy.

But I’ve only ever known a wounded God. The One who feeds me

now, I had to feed with trust and hope. Is this faith beyond the pale

Of decent orthodoxy? I think he is contented with my tale.

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