Elephant and woodlouse

My heart is open, I say, and wonder, What good does that do me?

-You were in a reverie.
-Let me try and tell you where I was. I affirm, “My heart is open”, and wonder what difference it makes. I feel looser, better balanced, more relaxed, better able to face the world.

He lets this pass without comment.

I had been thinking this morning, what did Essence do for me? The causes of my despair, such as my comically appalling CV, are unchanged. We talk of his holiday, and Karamazovs, and politics, in our usual friendly way. Then he shows me what I have gained. As so often, we revert to Evangelical Christianity, and the opinion of his friend Philip that God condemns homosexual activity. Staring at the plastic spider-plant on the mat between us, shoulders hunched, my sweet gentle friend speaks with anger.

-They say that gay lovemaking and gay love are ugly and disgusting, and they are Wrong, for gay lovemaking is Beautiful, and if the God of the Israelites really smote Sodom because of homosexuality and God condemns me as it says in Leviticus then-

(His voice is more determined and hopeless, but he for the first time meets my eye)


I see what I have gained, and wonder if I can communicate it. I observe how passionate he sounded. Imagine that your enemy rides an elephant towards you, and hanging from its sides are loudspeakers louder than The Who, proclaiming that if a man lie with a man as with a woman both are Abomination, and ye shall stone them to death-

-I would run away, he says.

OK. Now imagine that it is a woodlouse. You see this woodlouse, and hear an odd piping sound, almost too high to hear. You bend down and discern that it proclaims in its tiny piping voice that gays are Abomination. You laugh at it, and pass on its way giving it no more attention than any other woodlouse.

I look him in the eye and say, conversationally with a touch of joy, M & K’s wedding was Beautiful, and their marriage is Beautiful. I smile and he nods. The contrary opinion is from Hell. Imagine it like CS Lewis’ hell in a tiny crack in the ground, seeming large only to itself. You were bowed over, and did not meet my eye. I read that the bowed-head posture for texting strains the spine: if you can look up, it is such a relief.

On the bus, two men get on. “It’s a bus pass! It means you get free bus travel! It works whatever county you’re in, whatever bus company it is, because it is a carer’s bus pass, for carers and disabled people! Only in Northamptonshire! Why is Northamptonshire so vile to disabled people? The driver ‘gave us the benefit of the doubt,’ what is that supposed to mean?” I know that rational/reasonable whine of resentment at others being Wrong. I have done it myself.

There is more frustration there than a brief doubt at whether he could use the bus would warrant. My CV remains as it was, and I have gained so much.

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