Monday, January 30, 2012

Spiritual Counsel from a Strange Old Man

In her marvelous novel The Scent of Water, Elizabeth Goudge describes an encounter between one of the book's main characters and a strange old man:
"He had a round clerical hat, dusty and green with age.  He put it on, gripped his umbrella in his left hand and held out his right to me.  I held it and it was dry and rough and hot.  'My dear,' he said, 'I will pray for you every day of my life until I die.'
"Then he abruptly let go of my hand, turned his back on me and stumbled down the steps that led from the front door to the drive.  At the bottom he turned around again and looking into his face I noticed that when he was neither eager nor alarmed his eyes had the most extraordinary quietness in them.  'My dear,' he said, 'love, your God, is a trinity.  There are three necessary prayers and they have three words each.  They are these, 'Lord have mercy.  Thee, I adore.  Into Thy hands.'  Not difficult to remember.  If in times of distress you hold to these you will do well.'  Then he lifted his hat and turned around again.  I stood at the door and watched him go.  He had a queer wavering sort of walk.  He did not look back."

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