Caroline did indeed ask me to go to the meeting with her and I accepted. I thought ‘why not? I might just get some comfort from it.’ I had never been to one before, and the only concern I had at the time was that I would bump into someone I knew (the shame of it!). So three days later, on the Friday, I went. There were quite a few people there and the lady who owned the house made me feel very welcome.
If I had been uprooted and planted on the moon, I couldn’t have felt more ill at ease. I sat on an armchair and waited. The meeting started and a man, Clifford Law, began to talk about the Bible and God. He told us all about Jesus and why He came and died on the cross for us. He explained how much God loves us and how much of a sacrifice the death of His Son was to Him. I never thought of it in quite this way before. I had never thought of it as being real before now, to think somebody, let alone God, would do that for me, die for me, well it’s humbling. When he was finished another man got up. His name was Willie Fenton, and he too gave a talk about the Bible, God and His Son, Jesus. He mentioned that the evening before a man had dropped dead in his office in Newry. He was only thirty, about the same age as Sean. Hearing him talk of that mans death brought all the pain back to me. When I thought that I was going to find any comfort there I was sorely mistaken. I spent most of the evening upset and on the verge of tears, I felt awful. Clifford said that he was going to confess his sins to Jesus and if anybody wanted to join in, they were welcome to do so by repeating silently after him. He started by saying that he was an awful sinner. I thought about some of the things I had done in the past, things I had long buried with the hope of forgetting, things I was desperately ashamed of. I said to myself that I too was a sinner and meant it. Then he said that he was very sorry, and in my mind I told God I was sorry too for all my sins. Everything he said sounded very heartfelt and genuine and, in turn, I was very genuine in my confession, although I didn’t realise the implication of what I had done until many weeks later. Incidentally, I gave up smoking that same day.