Thursday, 18 November 2010
An Act of Faith 2
Perceval was known throughout the county as a man of piety and devout religious principal. So scrupulous was he in his observations that his place in the front pew in St Joseph’s had been worn as thin as a wafer. He refused to replace his tattered hassock, though, remarking that the cold flags of the church floor reminded him every moment of the more onerous sufferings of others.
However his sense of religious obligation was hardly matched by his sense of direction; perhaps earthly dimensions were beyond him. So lacking was he in basic orienteering skills that the parish priest always phoned up Perceval’s housekeeper to make sure he’d got home from the service without incident.
Perceval’s stated intention to make the pilgrimage to Santiago was therefore viewed by some in the village as idiotic beyond belief. Bets were laid in the public bar as to his actual destination. Birmingham was the firm favourite, followed by Intensive Care.
The priest, a kindly man, gently put it to Perceval that perhaps it was his allotted to path to remain at home; a pilgrimage of the heart was open to everyone after all. Perceval remained adamant, his faith was his rock. He could not live with the spiritual dereliction incurred by giving way to his navigational shortcomings. They were simply a test of his faith.
So on Monday 3rd October 1983, Perceval appeared at the gate of his cottage, with a haversack over his shoulder, a plastic mac over his arm, stout boots on his feet and a scallop shell pinned to the lapel of his old Harris Tweed jacket. His housekeeper wept as she waved from the bay window as her employer, doffing his hat to all he passed, walked out of the village.
He disappeared without trace, of course.