ICOULD siEvErt understand why I was always getting blamed for being spoilt just because I was the youngest in the family. After all, it wasn't my fault I was an afterthought.
But blame I got, when anything went wrong, or something couldn't be found, or when I seemed to get favoured over my brothers, who were several years older than me.
So I got used to chanting my favourite catchphrase, "It's not my fault", not just to absolve me from the latest alleged crime, but for the unforgivable crime of being born the Benjamin of the family.
Despite the sin for which there was no forgiveness I knew deep down that it did make me special, and especially loved even by the brothers who teased rather than tormented me.
But even their special love didn't make up for the age gap that made me something of an only child with no one with whom to share my deepest thoughts.
I used to feel aggrieved that 1 never had long philosophical discussions with them about the 'Origins of the Species' or the ultimate destiny of 'Homo Sapiens', as I fondly imagined other brothers and sisters did.
I was more than halfway to middle age before I found out that their spiritual experiences had been similar to mine, though each of us had given their experiences distinct interpretations that eventually led to different ways of life.
My brother Peter was the artist in the family. He loved nothing better than disappearing for hours on end with his canvas and brushes to paint castles and cathedrals, and then his beloved icons that eventually took over from everything else.
In summer he'd set out for the Peak District on his large three-wheeler with the tools of his trade strapped on the back, and return radiant to show us other icons purple mountains, silver streams, and grey granite cliffs.
Then later in the evening I'd often see him gazing into space mulling over the mysteries that made him mourn for his Maker.
Although Peter was the only pianist in the family apart from my mother, it was Tony my eldest brother who turned to music more than anything else for the icons that meant so much to him.
Although he loved all "classical music", he loved opera more than anything else. Shortly before Peter died, I asked him why the opera meant so much to him. He said, "It's because I love the human voice, because the human voice is the embodiment of the soul."
I've often quoted my brother to soulless sceptics who complain about opera singers who spend hours declaring their love for each other while dying with daggers in their hearts. They're so busy mocking what seems to them to be so surreal, that they're blind to the real: the soul that speaks through music more than through any other medium and more through the human voice than through any other instrument.
What Peter experienced through his art, Tony experienced through his music. It made him mourn too for the same mysterious Presence that touched his brother. My brothers' favourite icons finally led them to the Perfect Icon.
Peter found his way through poetry, the Romantics and Gerard Manley Hopkins; Tony through prose, through GK Chesterton and his masterly work on St Francis of Assisi.
I came by way of St Augustine who'd been entranced by the same icons that had so "moved" us whilst he was still a pagan, and then followed them like the wise men before him to the most Perfect Icon of all.
In Him alone can be found all the beauty, all the truth and all the goodness that can only be glimpsed in the rest of creation.
But in Him everything is brought to perfection and literally embodied, so that everybody can find in Him the spiritual completion for which their souls have been craving from the beginning. Every serious searcher who has briefly experienced the Presence of the All will feel compelled to search on until they discover that nothing but the All Himself will satisfy them any more.