One Year On

This time last year Quietnun and I were in the U.S.A. I had gone there to attend the Benedictine Development Symposium in Schuyler, Nebraska, where I was scheduled to give a talk about our online ministry, followed by meetings with Quietnun in New York and various places in Connecticut and New Jersey. Most of our meetings concerned the development of the community and the need for permanent accommodation, but we also managed a couple of visits with our postulant-to-be and some good friends nearby. It was fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. Never having been in the States as nuns, we were surprised by how kindly we were treated by everyone. The legendary friendliness of Americans is real enough, so we had to keep reminding ourselves we were guests in a foreign country. The fact that we spoke a similar language did not mean we could assume perfect understanding!

Where are we now, one year on? We have learned a lot; and we have found what we hope will prove to be a permanent home here in Herefordshire. That was not at all our idea when we went to the States last year. We have been powerfully reminded that our ways are not always God’s ways, that following his leadings means we have to give up ideas of our own and be prepared, at whatever age, to start anew. It means abandoning the loved and familiar. We had already done that twice, but who are we to limit the call and grace of God? So, one year on, a little like Abraham, we find ourselves having taken up our tent pegs and moved on into the unknown.

Probably most of you can resonate with that to some degree. One bumbles along, more or less happily, thinking nothing will ever change, and then some event, some person perhaps, causes a change we are totally unprepared for. Why should this happen to me, why should it happen now? In our case, we accepted the move to Howton Grove with joy because it means that others can now join the community. Other changes can be much harder to accept. We struggle, don’t we, hoping against hope that something will not come to pass. Our email prayerline is full of people’s secret fears and dreads: that a cancer may not spread; that the bank will not foreclose on a mortgage; that a son or daughter who is estranged may return to the family; that a husband or wife may not divorce. What has not changed for us, and never will, is the duty to take all these concerns into our prayer and intercede for others.

Today, if you have time, spend a moment or two in prayer for those faced with difficult transitions. They will never know you have prayed for them, but by praying you invite God into situations from which he may have been, in some sense, excluded. Intercessory prayer is dangerous, of course, but being surprised by God may be exactly what someone, somewhere, needs.

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6 thoughts on “One Year On”

  1. It’s an interesting word ‘transitions’. At my recent BAP, one of the reasons quoted for my not being suitable for Ordained Ministry was that I was still in transition from Military life and leadership to Christian formation and Christian leadership.

    This was nearly 2 1/2 years post-retirement and my complete immersion in Christian life, church life, lay ministry and a powerful experience of discernment, study and growth.

    In hindsight, I am able to see the accuracy of their insights, which I didn’t have myself, and which those who put me forward also didn’t discern.

    It strikes me that our whole life is a period of discernment of God’s will for us and that this means that we are in ongoing, life long transition, resistance to which is futile. God’s will may not be clear, in fact to most of us, its quite obscure, but it will come out in the ways you describe. It’s surrendering our own will to his that is difficult.

    Prayers as always for your community, your ministry, may it be joyful and life giving and life forming for all who meet you online or offline.

    • Thank you, Ernie. I like the honesty and fearlessness with which you have faced the disappointment of not having been selected (for now) for ordained ministry. Thank you for your prayers for us, which are much appreciated.

  2. Today is the feast of our Lady of Consolation, I think. What a good date to register, since as well, it recalls the noble tradition of faith that you are carrying forward from those early years of uncertainty and struggle in strange lands.

    • Thank you, Eric. We actually keep her feast on 5 July (for reasons I now forget, there was a conflict over dates in the 20th century). Yes, the Cambrai tradition is living still, handed on in every generation through the frail medium of human beings.

  3. I’ve been musing on how changes in one life can affect another. Knock on effects can be hard to take, but the community move to Hereford has brought me nothing but pleasure. It is a delight to know you are out of the damp and mould and have a future full of hope, but also it has set me thinking about a county I know very little about. Monty Don, cider, the Three Choirs Festival and Thomas Traherne are the extent of my knowledge of your new home. I’ll gloss over the first three, but reading and re-reading Traherne has been a great joy. One year on, thanks be to the God of Surprises.

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