11th February

The Salvation of Simon

Simon Stoblichties felt as if he had been lying on the rough, cold, wet plat- form for many days. He also felt as if he had been away for the same length of time, somewhere else. I have been sick, he thought, or perhaps I even died. But I am back now. For all that it left him exposed to the elements, for all that it would never be a place of comfort or safety, the platform felt pleasingly familiar. It felt like home.

A little rain was falling. He crawled to the edge and peered over. The Devil was not to be seen. Surely he had been there? Had he not tempted Simon with all manner of food and drink? Had he not proffered heat, a soft bed, clean linen, warm clothes, books, music, art? Had he not appeared in the guise of a white stag, an angel, and various beautiful, alluring women, promising in turn purity of thought, eternal rest and unimaginable sexual gratification, if only Simon would descend from his tree and abandon his mad asceticism?

Well, he had resisted the Devil and sent him packing. What about God? In all the years he’d spent out on the peat bog moor, there had been no sign of Him. Not a shout in the wind, not a blessing in the rain, not a glint in the sunshine, not a whisper in the snow. Simon had come to commune with God, and God had failed to show. So if all this wasn’t for God, then for whom, for what? For the Universe? The Universe didn’t give a damn. He wasn’t even a speck of dust to the Universe. So what was he?

He was alive. Slowly, painfully, he got to his feet. His legs and back were so sore that he could not straighten them. His beard was a tangled mass of grey and white. But as he stood, the last spatters of rain died away, and blue patches began to appear in the clouds. Light was filling the sky, a new day beginning. He turned to the east. In the distance, a small figure was trudging across the moor towards him, carrying a basket.

Reader: Matthew Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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