When Bishop Ruth suggested that I give my testimony during the service, I agreed. Whilst, it is about my own journey, as Jesus leads me graciously along His path towards my making my vows to join the single consecrated life, it is really a testimony about God and how he is always working and guiding us forward, often in ways unnoticed by ourselves.
This journey started with an invitation to have coffee with Rev. Stephen Bowen and his wife Margaret. Having only recently retired to Wellington about two years ago, and joining St. John’s church, I was invited to have coffee. It is only with hindsight that I can see clearly how the invitation lead me forward towards the SCL.
From our conversation over coffee and the loan of a book about Julian of Norwich, to my wishing to own that book myself, I visited the Cathedral bookshop in Wells. The desired book was not there but as I looked through the row of books, one book caught my attention. On the front cover was an image of an allium seed head and like images God had shown me during my private prayers. This image I connected to God’s presence being with me. I knew that this was the book for me and bought it.
Once home I sat down and read the book, cover to cover. After finishing the book, I felt that I was to contact the author. Finding contact details online, I sent my email and awaited a reply. After a week or two, I received a reply from Catherine Wood asking if she could ring me? The question was asked, “what was it about the SCL that interested me? I replied, that I did not know of any group but wished to speak with the author of the book.
This was the start of many conversations, each one lead me along this path.
Often, there would be periods where I would completely forget the SCL, then, out of the blue, I would feel the call that it was time to take the next step, which I did. As I followed God’s call, the desire within, that this was the right path for me grew. A two-year period of discussion, reflection and prayer has led me to my very special day and service.
The day for my life vows was here. Beverley, a dean of the SCL, offered to come along and present me to the Bishop, which I was very grateful for. Beverley guided me through each part of the service, supporting me with love. My son, wife and two little grandsons came, as did my daughter, sister and niece. Many friends also came as support. The service was beautiful, and I was informed after, that many were in tears.
The church was filled with the Holy Spirit, love and support. Bishop Ruth was also very supportive and encouraging, blessing my cross, a service book which was a gift from St. John’s church, finally, anointing me with oil.
There were certain actions that I felt called to do, gifts to give prior to my service. Once done, I was filled with a very strong sense that this was the start of a new chapter for me walking with God.
Now, two days on, I have been reflecting on my service and making my vows. Although, I had been living my life in a contemplative way and made my vows to God privately, prior to making my SCL vows, I now feel different. Reflecting upon what that difference was, to me, it is firstly, making my vows publicly. I have publicly stood up and said, “God has called me to follow this path, this is who I am”.
Secondly, I feel that I belong to something special. Living my life as called by God, within a group of like-minded people. The feeling is like that when one “Comes home”.