The birth of John the Baptist – celebrated on the 24th June – is always going to be a very significant day for me, since “the beginning had become the end; yet the end was now becoming the beginning.” It was the day of my First Vow to the Single Consecrated Life.
As a young woman, I had greatly admired the lives of Amy Carmichael and Isobel Kuhn, both missionaries in India and China respectively. The one outstanding mark of their lives was their passion for God Himself – in their case lived out in a missionary calling overseas. That impression has never left me and I could say that it has served to be the “hound of heaven”; never far from me through the “labyrinth” of my life.
I subsequently found myself challenged to serve with the Baptist Missionary Society in Brazil. Looking back, I realise how much I learned in those 13 years and how it all prepared me for later years.
In my 50s, in the UK, and children away from home and settled, I felt again that call to “live for God” – and spent 5 years in a convent testing my vocation; but I knew that I was not finding what I was looking for. So a move to London, and my first experience of a local Anglican parish church!
Since then, God had led me to the Franciscan Third Order and now to SCL. So on the 24th June 2014, it really did feel like a homecoming to what I had always been looking for.
On the day, we were about 20 altogether and the people from St Peter’s Vauxhall (Diocese of Southwark) where I have only been for a year, were a true support to me, as were Rev. Bruce Driver (TSSF) and his wife. Bishop Christopher (+Southwark) presided. Sue (SCL) and Alison Kennedy (vicar of St Peter’s) were both on hand to guide me along. Bishops have always seemed to me to be somewhat “beyond” the person in the pew! However, at a moment of crisis during the service (no anointing oil on the altar), Bishop Christopher held all together calmly and in a down-to-earth manner that made me feel that nothing untoward was happening at all! Precious moments came and went throughout the service, kept in the heart for later.
Sue’s homily was inspiring and challenging. It centred on the birth of John the Baptist and his new name, the particular direction of his life and the effect that his life would have had on the people around him.
I hope that his example will enable me to persevere and live fully for God as he did.