CREDOS : The book of Joe — II

Paul O’Donnell

They laughed, but what was truly extraordinary was they wept. I realized that all I had to do was to tell the story of this relationship and however it came out, funny or sad or both or neither, it didn’t matter. You’re the perfect foil for Joe. On the one hand you’re a sinner, but even as a child you already seem to be not of the world, always roaming the countryside. Did that innate spirituality lead you to stumble upon the trailer where you end up having the affair?

I was very happy to live a kind of proto-hermitic life in the countryside. I was never scared by it. I never missed other people’s company. There was this fascination with discovering bird’s eggs and seeing things like that for the first time. There was something sort of miraculous about it. I didn’t recognize it as spiritual. I didn’t even recognize it as antithetical to the lack of affect that I got from organized religion. But I suppose looking back on it, it was a little piece of what attracted me to Joe.

Where did that come from? Is being not of the world a response to a lack of belonging, say, with your own father?

If it was, I wasn’t alone. A lot of the problems my generation had with authority possibly came from the fact that our fathers were not there for the formative years of our young lives. They were off fighting war. But he himself was a quiet and hermitic type, and his vocation was a very odd one. I was the son of a stained glass artist and it made me odd by reflection.

So Joe becomes the father you never had. Yeah. I don’t really get into that as much as I would have liked. Joe had fatherly qualities which were sort of extra-clerical. —