Someone asked me, 'What is it to live a consecrated life?'
As I see it, a consecrated life is to be drawn more closely into a living relationship with God through Christ Jesus, and lived out in the context of daily life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Spelled out this means a life shaped by the vows and values of the heart, namely, prayer, compassion, community and fellowship; a shared life of Gospel values radically counter-cultural in a world largely characterised by consumerism and instant gratification. Which may be why one of the clergy told me SCL is 'old fashioned' and my granddaughters (modern young women) were open mouthed. 'What planet are we living on?' they asked in amazement.
I don't know why the call to SCL is so strong, or why I felt on hearing Bishop David Walker's most gracious and loving words of liturgy in his acceptance of the vows – felt to be the most stunning piece of good fortune, but I did, and still do.
My discernment towards SCL wasn't so much a process as a flash of revelation, much like my entry into the Church of England in the first place (some of you will know my background is Orthodox Judaism - but that's another story for another time).
Widowed two years ago I am now Reader Emeritus and Hon. Chaplain at Manchester Cathedral with a ministry of contemplative prayer. Nothing can erase the pain of my husband's passing, but since offering my SCL vows publicly to Bishop David and his most gracious acceptance of them, I wake up in the morning happy and at ease with what often turns out to be a chaotic world. And I treasure the lovely silver cross the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Manchester Cathedral.
But SCL isn't about me at all – it isn't 'private piety' – because the beauty of the Christian life is, as others have said before me, its vision of unity; unified in the One who is unified in the Father (John 14.v20) Into which SCL is lovingly and mysteriously woven. A most stunning piece of good fortune indeed.