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  • Writer's pictureLogan Rose

Mercy Mathieu

“You know how sometimes you can walk into a place and just feel God?”

 

Mathieu’s voice rings out in my head, even though I haven’t spoken to him in nearly ten years and nobody knows where he is.

 

Was that the last time I was in a church?

 

Surely not.

 

I’ve walked into cathedrals all over Europe, not to mention Park Street Church in Boston last fall.

 

That’s the good thing about churches, I guess. You can just walk right in and nobody asks you questions.

 

“Pas de questiones,” Mathieu’s voice again, marred with giggles and choking on strange clouds. His English always slipped the nights he smoked, but other times, it was crystal clear.

 

I think when he was speaking to me in English that night, he was saying that you couldn’t feel God in the church we had walked into. It was hard to feel God in the small town we grew up in.

 

The only way must have been drugs, and Mathieu did a lot of drugs. Granted, Mathieu wasn’t from my town. Maybe he missed Him. God, I mean.

 

Tonight, though, I can feel God. I wonder if he’s speaking to me in Mathieu’s voice, for some strange reason; borrowing a memory to say, “Bonjour, I am here.”

 

But why this memory? Why this place?

 

The Sacré Coeur feels out of context, even though Mathieu was French.

 

Why did I say was?

 

I shudder to think that my insides know something I don’t.

 

Mathieu is the street urchin kid my parents picked up after he was all but abandoned by his drug-addled Parisian mother. I don’t know how she got to the United States, but she didn’t last long.

 

My father went to her funeral last year, and I hope with all my heart that Mathieu hasn’t met the same fate.

 

There’s no way to know, though. Not even my parents know. Granted, they don’t know where I am, either.

 

They tried to take care of everyone when I was growing up, and as a result, didn’t care for anyone properly.

 

Mathieu got hooked on drugs, and I got the hell out of Dodge.

 

Now, I’m in a church in the middle of a world tour, mere days before the biggest solo of my cello career, and I feel strangely calm.

 

The anxiety of the past few months is melting off of me as the warmth returns to my fingers.

 

At the altar, I light a candle. It’s kind of for Mathieu, but it’s mostly for me.

 

“Please,” I pray, “Let me be bigger than my doubts.”

 

I watch the candle burn, and I leave my doubts to God.

 

I don’t know if I believe in Him, but Mathieu told me He was here.

 

As I leave le Sacré Coeur, I whisper, “merci” into the cold air. It sounds like the English word, “mercy,” and I hope Mathieu gets some.

 

Maybe the candle really was for him, after all.

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