I was born on Easter Sunday (this always felt so special) – the date was 29th March 1970 – at 5.40 in the morning. My romantic side likes to believe that this is the time on Easter Sunday – 2000 years ago – that Mary Magdalene met ‘my risen Lord’. I was the 2nd sibling of 4. My elder sister is 1.5 years older, my little sister is 4 years younger, and my brother is 8 years younger. My parents were working class parents – My Grandparents were Londoners from Bow in the East End and from Hackney, who moved out to Chingford E4 on the Essex London border after the war – later one set of Grandparents moved out to Point Clear, St Osyth on the NE Essex coast. They had not much money and lived a very simple life – grew their own vegetables – owned chickens. But their lives were so very rich with Love.
As a child my mother worked as a waitress, and my father worked as a contract cleaner, although he was a trained tailor cutter and lathe press operator (there was more money to be made as a contract cleaner.) I was born at home in a rented flat in Woodford Green, Essex, and lived there until age 1. I grew up at Chingford Hatch where my parents brought an x-council house, which the family lived in until I was 27. I had a very happy childhood. My mum was the youngest of 11 children; my dad was the youngest of 2. There were lots of distant cousins who we only usually saw at funerals/weddings/special family occasions. Both sets of Grandparents were older than the average as they never had my mother and father until they were in their 40’s.
Three of us children were christened. By the time my brother came along it was no longer fashionable to have your baby Christened – so he wasn’t. We were Christian (on paper) though we did not practice the Christian Faith or attend church (other than christenings/marriages/funerals.) My family was kind; they were good neighbours and a well-liked part of the secular community. My father was well known – as window cleaning was a part of his business. My father wrote poetry, and after he died I became aware that he was a man of deepest faith, though not of practicing religion. He was a compassionate man whom I remember making cups of tea for the local ‘tramp’. (That term I know is not politically correct today, but as a child these were my memories.) My Dad would help anyone. He was a good man, and a strong man who was well-respected, and a great influence on me. My mum was a well liked popular Berni Inn waitress – most regulars wanted to sit in her section (which meant the tips were good) – I also remember her doing our elderly relatives hair. Us children were born into a family that was bigger than average, and we were well-known and liked in the local community as my mother and father had grown up here too.
As number 2 child I was always slightly more alternative than my siblings. This was because my elder sister usually caught the mainstream ‘fashions’ first – and I settled for the quirky alternative options. I was more romantic – artistic – and spiritual. I was a very sociable, sunshiny, happy, joyful, confident and friendly personality – My Dad once introduced us 3 girls as, the pretty one, the intelligent one, and I was the one with the personality!
I loved nature, wildlife, animals and pets – and I recognised that this affection was bigger in me than in my siblings. I often played over the woods with my dog. I enjoyed the beauty and the wonder of the world, and felt this wonder most present in the depths of nature, either alone or when playing with my siblings and friends in our camps and tree houses. As a child I joined Horse Rangers in E4 for £1.00 per week, where I would learn how to care for the horses, and every third week I would get to ride through Epping Forest, else around the paddock. I loved it – that ‘magical’ transcendent feeling of being so alive and free in nature upon horseback – it offered me a spiritual freedom and connection to something that others didn’t express.
As a child I remember my 1-year-old kitten being killed by a car – it became my first experience of grief so deep – I remember tearfully being broken-hearted in the deepest pain of loss – I remember looking out my bedroom window into the depths of that black night, being so cold and dark and alone – and yet this brightest light piercing through a tiny hole in the bollard in the middle of the black road – and I was filled with a mysterious overwhelming ‘knowing’ that my beloved pet even though dead – was alive in Spirit somewhere else – I must have been about 10.
Coming from a big family, death featured regularly throughout my childhood with grandparents and elderly aunts and uncles steadily dying off year by year – always a mystery – always a feeling of unexplained otherness. And yet I never went to a funeral until much later. At 13 when my nanny died I remember all the children being able to choose a special momento from her cabinet. Everybody chose before me, but they had all left a big metal and black 3” by 2” crucifix with Jesus on it, with the letters INRI written across the top in a silver scroll. For years this Cross hung above my bed in blessing. It represented for me something tangible of the unspoken that was precious to me.
In secondary school many of the girls became more interested in smoking, high fashion, makeup, and boys – whilst I was more interested in other things like sport, my skateboard or bike, the woods, and at times a headscarf worn like a gypsy. I think this sometimes made me ‘different’ from them – and whilst I was never short of friends – my ranking in the order of my peer group of 7 was somewhat sidelined – I escaped from being closer to the bottom end of the ranks by ‘being’ the joyful joker on the sidelines. I had my own street-cred because I had a beautiful popular older sister, I was a great dancer, I was one of the best kids at sport, but also very well liked by other people beyond my peer group. This was seen as being disloyal enough to warrant the odd spate of nastiness from my immediate ‘friends’ – but also was enough to mean that any unkindness rarely got physical with them, because on the odd occasion that it did it was proved that I was also a very good fighter too! (Which I cringe at today.) I soon learnt that the hierarchy of the girls was a direct result of their ‘fanciableness’ to the boys, and as I was a tom-boy I was liked but rarely fancied – I thought the boys were much easier work, they had no bitchy girl politics and no spiteful agenda.
I noted at school that I was much liked by the very strict/hard teachers that other students didn’t like – I became aware of a gift that I had – that something in my manner appeared to soften them – it was only much later when somebody in my workplace said ‘what I really like about you is your ability to talk to everyone exactly the same, whether they are a high up boss or the lowest of the low’. On one hand my open, warm, sharing, affectionate, honest personality has brought me so many blessings over the years, and on the other hand what some people warm to and love about me, has also caused me so very much pain and suffering.
I liked school but I was happy to leave the limited, seemingly inartistic, unspiritual, uncultured friendships behind, and be able to move on and explore a much broader more liberated and inspiring culture. I left home at 17 not having felt at that age particularly liked or understood by my mother and younger sister – my mum had quite a difficult relationship with her older mother during her teenage years – and as a mother herself was not particularly tactile or maternally cuddly and affectionate. My dad was the much more compassionate, romantic and warm personality – my mum was more organized and practical. Having continually shared a room with 2 other siblings it was beginning to take its toll. I desperately wanted my own room – so I moved into a room in a houseshare. With hindsight this was far to young to leave home. I was both determined and lonely.
Eventually I moved into a council flat with a performing arts college friend in London N1. I was a member of the Young Vic Youth Theatre, and earned an income in the Old + Young Vic Theatres Front of House in the evenings. My flat mate had Catholic Irish grandparents – this became the first person I knew of who had connections to Faith, (other than a Jewish girl at school who was teased.) But at 18 this was worlds away and so remote from our lives in the theatre culture with its well-known actors, artistic social life, and our new age spiritual awakening with all its tarot readings, crystal healings, Neal’s Yard remedies, and the alternative ‘Camden’ culture which influenced and inspired us at the time. During this great year of liberation, exploration, and discovery surrounded by many friends and much fun – upon returning one evening from a party night out, and falling to sleep in my room, I awoke to a man (who had been previously pestering me) on top of me – I was raped by my lodgers brother.
In shock and hurting, everything that was, rather changed beyond this point – I never prosecuted or told my parents what had happened, as my father would have killed the man. I eventually gave up the flat tenancy and the theatre scene in London, and spent the summer at my Granddad’s home (with my friend) where we worked for a month on a local holiday park. I had a holiday romance with a man who was more like a harmless brother – the man (who was living in a caravan doing seasonal work) would without any discernment move up to Manchester with me, where I was beginning Polytechnic – after one year (which was very difficult trying to juggle an acting career and a new relationship with someone who wasn’t interested in theatre) I gave up and returned back home to my parents with my boyfriend – We went on to Marry.
I had a very romantic nature and I had a dream in my head of how I thought life should be, which slowly appeared to be unfolding – my boyfriend was happy to go along with it without questioning – we went from renting – to owning – to engagement at Stone Henge (where my ring touched the Heel Stone) – to marrying – to having 2 children – but after 7 years things went terribly wrong. He had grown up in a boarding school as his Navy father had died one day after he was born. Once our children came along we realized just how much he was struggling with family living. He would drink and get verbally volatile – after 10 years of being together we separated.
I was in turmoil before the split, not knowing what to do – my dreams of a happy family life had been shattered – my Mum and Dads happy marriage had not been echoed and I was heartbroken – but In separating I had also gained a peace and tranquility that I hadn’t known for so long, and within a few months I was feeling alive again. That was when I met Richard who would very quickly without any discernment move in. Within 16 months he become my 2nd husband – we would go on to have 3 of our own children.
Three years into our relationship my Daddy unexpectedly died and I was thrown into the deepest most suffocating grief – I was holding Dads hand when he died and despite being devastated, the trauma was such a spiritual experience “I followed the last little trace of life through his body, leaving him by a momentary flickering mini pulse, exiting his body through the eyelid. It finally left him in the form of a glycerin like teardrop, perfectly visible (like a diamond) in the corner of his closed eye. Sensory to the end. And beyond all life, still my heightened senses could tangibly feel his spirit, the eternalness of Love and without a doubt, God’s presence. And I have no doubt even though he had died, my father could feel it too.” – This was the catalyst that reawakened my spiritual journey, and so I tentatively began feeling my way forwards – allowing myself to explore each spiritual stepping stone as it seemingly revealed itself before me, being absolutely secure in each truth and rejecting anything fraudulent before taking the next step forward. Eventually after years I found myself at the Catholic Church – I was not prepared for such a momentous journey.
Having come to such a deep Love of the Catholic Faith in my late thirties, I chose to give my children the privilege of a beautiful Catholic upbringing. A gift. An eternal resource which I was not privileged to have as a child. I was fashionably christened Church of England but I had a working class secular upbringing, with no church attendance, my family had no practicing faith – and yet I fell in Love with the heightened feeling that met me back, in Church. I was awoken in Love for the first ever time consciously in God. And I knew it to be True, as I recognised that same Truth at other previously heightened times in my life – when I first met my children after birth – when I was holding Dads hand when he died. And I recognised too the times that I hadn’t felt that heightened feeling of Love in God. When you have done things without doing them in God – & then when you do things in Truth because of God – with your hand on your heart you 100% know the difference. And so having fallen in Love with the Catholic faith I decided to have all five of my children baptised Roman Catholic. From the very beginning I had every intention of being united with my children in faith. I was initially told that I could be received into the Roman Catholic Church pending the successful annulment of my first marriage, and so I went ahead with my children’s baptisms on a beautiful perfect May day in 2009.
The dearly loved priest then left – and when the newly appointed priest came, he explained that it would now only be a possibility for me to be received into the Roman Catholic Church (after my annulment) if I was living as brother and sister within my current second marriage. I was not initially given this information.
My second marriage of nine years to date was a Church of England marriage, undertaken before I came to the Catholic faith. My now husband could not get his first marriage annulled (neither did he wish to.) His first marriage was a happy relationship that lasted over 30 years – then his former wife left him for another man – her relationship did not work out. For two years my husband tried tirelessly to restore their relationship. He failed, so after two years of their separation they were divorced. It was only after this point that his wife wanted to re-consider their separation, but by then we were together, and I was expecting. He did at this point ask me if he should return to her, I said only he could make that decision. I too was divorced and alone with two tiny children. We were both lonely, and comforted each other with compassion and physical intimacy. 11 months into our relationship I was expecting twins, we were married 15 months after meeting. My husband who is 22 years older than me, was Christened Church of England but is not himself a man of faith; he quietly has a humanist outlook and does not believe in anything supernatural or spiritual. At the time that we were married I was very angry with my secular god who I thought had allowed my first marriage to end. I thought I had no faith left.
With my children having been received into the faith in 2009, realising my predicament, I was left with an excruciating moral dilemma. To live and possibly die (officially recorded) as a different religion to my five children, (which for me was unspeakable) by continuing to practice as an unofficial Catholic, and to be separated from my children and faith community by not receiving the Eucharist, the Sacraments, or the official reception. Or to live in a platonic friendship within my marriage as brother and sister, and not to live as a loving marriage should be lived, thus hurting my husband. Thus freeing me to be officially received into the Catholic Church and being united with my children in faith. I asked my husband to lie for me, and if he was asked, to say that we were not sleeping together – he said no.
The only other alternative was that I could be received into Full Communion with Rome if my husband or his former wife were to die, thus ending their marriage covenant. I did not believe that I could allow myself to be received into the church upon the required death of another being. In choosing to be part of an intimate marriage I did not choose for a life of celibacy, but the desire to be united with my children in faith as their mother was so very strong and maternal, and the spiritual division and separation between me and my children was all to painfully much to bear.
The annulment process for my first marriage took over two long years. This gave me much time to consider my situation. The pressure of being faced with such a difficult situation, not having had an intimate physical relationship over the past year, caused the fissures and blemishes within my current marriage to deepen and become more obvious, causing me split loyalties. I committed to my second marriage before I came to faith, before I came to know the Catholic Church and her teachings on second marriages, and before I came to understand the beauty of the spiritual covenant of authentic Love and marriage within faith, between two people and God.
My choice was to be an impossibly painful one.
Trying to discern Gods desire in this situation was so very difficult. For the past 4 years I have now been living as brother and sister within my marriage (much to my husbands and at first my chagrin.) Morally I feel as if I have cheated my husband out of a wholesome, fulfilling and loving marriage, but I would be in denial if I didn’t acknowledge that our marriage was never spiritually fulfilling or based upon spiritual Truth, I just never understood or acknowledged it at the time when my decisions were made. Now physical and spiritual needs for us both are being every day challenged.
Morally (because of Catholic teaching) I was taught that I should not have married my husband, and that in honest truth he should still be with his first wife. Having embraced the faith so deeply, how could I not too embrace this? Having lived with some of the problems we have faced during our marriage, in my deepest heart I felt this to be true, but we have beautiful children together, who are part of a loving family unit which should not be broken.
My faith is so strong because I have had to turn so intimately towards Christ, my relationship with Him means so much to me. So selfishly I prioritised my personal desire to be united with my children in Faith – by converting to Roman Catholicism. I felt I had no choice but to be united spiritually with my children.
Sometimes when we turn to faith, life can be turned upon its head and become utterly crucifying. I am living through such a moral dilemma. I have felt that any which way I turn I morally fail someone. Whether I fail my husband, the church, my children, or myself. My husband and I have had to learn to be with each other in a new way, this has made life much harder. Any form of emotional togetherness or intimacy is ruined. I did fail myself a few times physically in the early days pre my reception into the church, by needing intimacy when my husband offered it, but God has been ever patient with me. Since having made my decision to live as brother and sister, I have now been received into the Catholic Church. I am holding tightly to the fact that God calls us; to keep on in loving-kindness in whichever situation we are faced. In contradiction before I was received in, I met with an anger inside of myself that I never before knew existed; and at times this was so difficult to live with. The anger has been alleviated and dispersed since my reception – only to rear its ugly head again at the times that Richard has been unnecessarily cruel.
In complex situations where people have come to the Catholic Faith from a secular world, or different denomination of Christianity, people can have made quite acceptable choices within the secular law, which were not considered a sin. And yet those same law-abiding people when they want to convert to Catholicism, having been led to the Catholic Church by God, may not only be held apart as mortal sinners, but further more, have to commit further sins, by either breaking their current wedding vows after having committed to them, or by continuing to live now consciously in mortal sin, as taught by the Catholic Church. Even officials at times, do not have all the solutions and answers to bring good people to peace and salvation. The distortions of the protestant revolution has maybe left others in a state of flux as a result and influence of their inherited upbringing and choices made lawfully under those inherited laws. As a result of the reformation, Christian faiths are not only fractured but the different laws regarding re-marriage have the potential to crucify good people. The divide between secular/protestant/Catholic faiths can be crippling.
In 2011, I took myself off to Heythrop College to do a Pastoral Mission degree – to learn all about my beloved Catholic Faith – and to train myself to work for the church. I used myself as a case study in my reflections – and brought my case before the top Catholic lecturers in the country.
On 26th May 2012 – St Philip Neri’s Feast day. The patron Saint of joy – I was absolutely overjoyed that they decided to receive me into Full Communion with Rome. It had been a momentous journey for me, one involving a very happy secular/agnostic upbringing. A very alternative twenties, (which saw me observing from a distance different alternative faiths and philosophies.) A thirties with family aspirations being exceeded, and then sadly dismantled, then re-marriage to a humanist. Then, completely unexpectedly, an amazing experience of being led by extreme coincidence to the Catholic Church, which I have completely fallen in Love with. On separation from my first husband I brought and renovated a tiny 2 up 2 down cottage, with my two tiny children. When my new parish priest first came to our parish, he went through the archives in the safe, it was revealed that my cottage was the home where Catholic Mass took place in my town from 1904-1935.
When I think back to the very beginnings, I was too embarrassed to go to my local Catholic Church, in case my alternative friends saw me entering or leaving the building, or in case I hated it and would find it to difficult to make my excuses upon not returning. So I began my journey driving the early morning 20 minutes run to the next town, every Sunday for the first 4 months.
The first tearful appearance I ever put in at my local Church was at my dearest next-door neighbours funeral. It is thanks to their friendship that I first ever dared to put my foot inside my local Catholic Church, where my children and I were met and welcomed with such mammoth and deeply unconditional Love. Love that I had never experienced in any other place of worship so authentically.
My journey since has had many tears and many obstacles to overcome, including marriage annulment. And despite my initial four years of non-reception, throughout my entire journey I have been held especially close by so many, many whom I have come to Love dearly.
Despite the frustrations there has also been much cheeky humour, great playfulness and much fun. So I was delighted that on Pentecost Eve it was the feast day of St Phillip Neri, whom I have heard at times was a little eccentric. ‘St. Philip possessed a playful humour, combined with a shrewd wit. He considered a cheerful temper to be more Christian than a melancholy one, and carried this spirit into his whole life:’ “A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.” – This seemed perfect for me.
Having been so inspired by Catholicism, her people, her Mystics, and her Saints, and having gone back to University to educate myself by doing a degree in Pastoral Mission, I fell in love with my faith deeper still. I had many years of faith education to catch up on. I was daily discovering new treasures, and being endlessly inspired by the people of faith that I met. But above all I came to know the unsurpassable and infinite Love of Jesus Christ, and for that I was eternally grateful. To be able to soon share in the Sacred Communion of the Holy Eucharist, with my church family and my children, by being fully received into the Catholic Church, would be to share a little Heaven on earth.
After the diocesan tribunal had decided that providing I was living as brother and sister I could be received into the church – my husband in his anger and rejection at my decision secretly stormed my private room and read my private prayer journal – he read between the lines – about me struggling to come to terms with my situation, and with the harsh treatment of having been cut in conversation and contact off from the priest that originally baptised my children and had moved on. A man whom I had written that I loved dearly – and thought I would be friends with for life.
Being a contemplative writer I have written over 500 pages about my spiritual journey. I had written in my journal that many of the people whom I have had the pleasure of meeting through my Catholic community, have touched and inspired my life with their insight and integrity. I had written that I had been so blessed. I loved my Catholic Faith despite the pressure I had felt at times of living in a celibate marriage. Being in a physically intimate relationship previously, and to have that part of my life change because of my situation, had meant that in some form or another I projected those same deprived energies into a poetic transcendental Love affair which had become evident in my writing, my expression, my physical feelings, my prayer, my poetry, my imagination, and my very being, even in my communication with my Beloved. This did not feel unholy after all one reads of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross experiencing this deepest connection in a similar way.
I also wrote that I had loved deeply on a human level beyond friendship in a truly God-loving way, a Love that I was previously unaware of, a Love so powerful and ever deep. It certainly was not a sexual Love for me initially when the person was present, but one of deepest Love, respect, admiration, care, joy, inspiration, affection and affiliation. Not of sexual desire but of a beloved unification of souls. If you have ever experienced this Love you will know that is not born out of sin, but bestowed by God in deepest Love. It appears to be only the English language that doesn’t have the vocabulary to properly depict this Love.
In my initial awkwardness and clumsiness of expression, and in my spiritual immaturity and not understanding this kind of Love – and in all our human complexity having experienced this deepest Love – communications were botched, graunched, and latterly denied. This of course caused problems, and the way the situation was badly handled did not harness peace or resolution for anyone. I attempted to write that this was a falling in Love – and it was. It was a Love in God awareness (my first in fact) that I had not previously known or met before. Still for me it was not born of sexual desire but of souls profoundly connecting. I had never been an unfaithful woman inside or outside of marriage. Ironically however now I was living formally as brother and sister in order to right a marriage that is considered to be adulterous by the church. And yet I loved someone else deeply in God.
My writing, poetry and prose meant that I could work through those complex feelings in a mature, unadulterated and understanding way, thus my writing became the vehicle in which I could express those deepest yearnings of my soul. My situation became the catalyst for my writing, expression whereby I could vocalise and make sense of my suffering and joy, and paint a picture not only of my crucifixion but also of my reaching out and touching God – in response to God reaching out and touching me, through the charged conduit of supernatural Love. A Love known in deepest prayer. Those transcendent unifying energies that may connect us to our beloved through our humanity and our spirit, even erotic emotions – as in the song of songs. The body in profound prayer and worship is a spiritual flight of deepest Love to unite us with our creator, and is only possible because of the reality of our humanity and spirit. St Teresa of Avila, St John of the cross, St Dominic and St Francis in their physical and spiritual devotion and worship reveal their own Truths, all were graced with ecstatic Love. I believe this not just to be metaphorical.
After my ‘husband’ read my journal it became obvious that my honesty, my poetic metaphors, and also my poetic Truth was not decoded well. Behind my back Richard took his findings round to the new priest, and in his jealousy told him I was in Love with the previous priest – Richard suggested that because of my situation he thought I needed counseling. They kept their conversation confidential from me – although clearly it had been shared between the priests. My degree was imminently drawing to a close and I turned up at the Cathedral for a public lecture on vocations with the vocations director – and the dear priest that baptised my children unbeknown to me was introducing the talk. In duty to protect the Catholic Church from any further scandal in the light of its recently scandalous history, the said priest called the police upon me and told them I had been harassing him, and that I was to stay away from the Cathedral. I had never ever had anything to do with the police ever before in my entire lifetime. I have never ever committed a crime – or been unkind to anyone ever before. I was used as a scapegoat. And I felt deeply hurt and betrayed by everyone involved. I was consequently verbally banished from all lectures and from attending special events at the Cathedral at the heart of my diocese. To be punished and excluded by man – for being True in God is hell on earth. And no amount of unkindness or exclusion or cruelty on the churches or clerics part, by denying healing communication, will ever allow for that Truth to be unknown ever again.
I have lived in the greatest pain for the past few years – but I have continued to be faithful to God. And I continue to train so that one day I can work for the Church as God calls me to – I have been in dialogue with the new bishop – and this year for the first time I re-attended the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral seemingly with his blessing.
I now watch on as my relationship with my husband has disintegrated beyond all repair, as he decides to seek his comfort and intimacy deceptively elsewhere, whilst still being locked into a celibate marriage with me – we can not afford to financially make the break – the age gap where once it was not an issue has become an almighty barrier, which means that at this stage reconciliation between us is no longer possible. I no longer love him as a husband. I live with a father figure – where I am considered the most annoying eldest child!
Thank God for prayer, which is such a deeply penetrating comfort – it’s the braille of my soul. God has held me so intimately close in so many ways – The ironic thing for me in all of this, is that God – who is Love and Spirit – has revealed to me the Truth in my heart. God found me through Love, and here in Truth I belong. To receive the Eucharist daily if I can is so very important to me. The beauty of the Eucharist I want to receive everyday, and when I can’t I miss It dreadfully. It fills me with a depth, and a warmth, and a charge that deeply and intimately nourishes and stills me, and re-charges all parts of me at once. Inseminated by His Spirit – such intimate, physical and spiritual nourishment. Why would anyone want to go without it once they knew?
On occasions in anger and protest at my exclusion I have tried staying away from church, where the heightened yearning to receive Christ’s Loving presence physically once again is raw and charged with interior hurting. The Eucharist refuels me with His physical Love – At these times I miss the deepness of Him recharging me in this Sacred Sacramental Union. I have missed His gentle body melting like prayer in the depth of my being, then deeper still back into the depth of His Spirit. I miss the warm Spirit of His blood filtering into my own body as if in transfusion to my own. I have missed Him making Love to me in this way . . . and yet . . . in the deepest most personal Spiritual Communion there is another dimension – one of heightened desire and indescribable timelessness that has no limits but of its own privacy and call – a Union which takes ones breath away unexpected – which rouses the soul from the earth to the Spirit in one momentous bodily upwave – And only then beyond the surge, gently subsiding as if the tide were being softly called back by the moon – Prayer taken on the current – without any deliberate conscious transaction – just a natural communion in the body – spirit to Spirit.
Because of the unjust historical picture painted of her – Mary Magdalene has been the closest comfort – a spiritual sister – and an inspiration to me throughout – she came to me in prayer and accompanied me. I have felt so closely connected to her, and by way of miracle we seem intimately tied to one another – Never having known of her before I came to the church. Because of her presence I wanted to be received in on her feast day, but I was given St Philip Neri’s feast day instead – it turned out that his birthday was on her feast day. My confirmation name was Magdalene – and then later still when the priest was going through the archives it was discovered that our Church was originally consecrated to St Mary Magdalene and no one knew, as it was buried in the archives. After the end of University there was an unrelenting endless whisper calling me to make tangible from prayer ‘The Way of Love’ Charism inspired by her and Jesus’ companionship. And all the wonder and peace at having prayed it into being, and of having printed and posted off several carefully presented copies given to the pope and the archbishop, now my continued determination to live my life by this Charism, which is just about to be formally printed, will be fulfilled. The Charism is for people who want to live out their (more formal) vocation whilst still living in their parish or situation, as a person of deepest discipleship, and of determined faith – without exclusion.
My favourite piece of spiritual writing is by Pedro Arupe.
“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” – Pedro Arrupe
At certain times of the month to be in my position is to be . . . . . words cannot describe. Screaming for as long and as loud as is humanly possible (until the scream no longer resembles a human but an animal) may begin to paint the picture in the correct colours, and portray a little of my frustration. To scream all the swear words under the sun might relieve a little tension, but I very much doubt it. Yet my life is touched with much Beauty as well as all the frustration. To be deprived of human contact, of loving kindness and physical friendship with a person we Love, whilst we are upon the same earth together, is an eternal crucifixion. A crucifixion that cannot be relieved nor alleviated, neither can it find consolation even after receiving the Eucharist. It is torture to have the gift of life, of health, and of Love, and yet to be deprived of a dearest Loved-one. – On earth as it is in Heaven – Severed so, by mans utter failingness to comprehend the breadth and depths of God’s Love.
I had previously written that I am a young woman, on reflection however I am no longer young. I am a 45-year-old woman, who wants to spend her life sharing God in her faith, in her friendships, and in Love. Lives touching, accompanying, talking, laughing, being, spending, and sharing at least a little time together. For what is it to reach out and heal your enemy with loving kindness, when you can not reach out to those dearest to you. If we are unluckier still, we may find that even if the opportunity arises, man has made such a hash of things, that anything which was once beautiful and pure, may have been thwarted, corroded, dismantled or destroyed.
God is not of such devastating destruction; He has no place in it. God is God who is Love and Spirit. Wherever I am, I feel His Love. I feel Him touch me. I feel Him holding me close and never letting me go. And I hear Him urging me to keep on being Love and Truth.
Last week after a long battle, and after accompanying my dearest best friend to every treatment for the past so many years, I sat vigil by her bedside as her life slipped away. It was Gods Love that gave me the strength to accompany her on her final journey – and it was my Pastoral Mission degree, and the 2 years of my Ignatian Spirituality course that helped in my formation. My Vocation is to Love – and my life is testament to the fact that everything that I have lived through, has been because God calls me to Love – in Spirit and in Truth – without exclusion – by sharing that Love with others.
My lucky number is 13. My maiden name is Baker. My daddy always taught us that 13 was special because it was a Baker’s dozen. He taught us that Friday 13th was not to be feared for us – when everyone else was dreading it, we looked forward to it as a special family day, a lucky day. Mary Magdalene is sometimes referred to as the 13th apostle, or the apostle to the apostles. It is the Marian day of devotion. My middle name is Marie. Marie derives from ancient (mry) meaning beloved. My initials (in anagram) spell out the word mags. Silly little personal details that make me feel all rather especially chosen. For what I don’t know. Still listening and watching very closely. Maybe I will never know. Maybe for what I was chosen has already been.
Writing down my feelings and expressing myself in unhindered Truth has been a very healing process. There is almost something cathartic about owning the Truth and setting it free from being locked up inside, and then, just allowing it to be. In writing down my spiritual journey I can see all the beautiful lights, lanterns and candles lighting and blessing my life. So much kindness and Love. In deepest sadness I have been blessed. And so I set it free. And look forward to my future Vocation to Love – wherever God might lead me – beginning with my children – and those who persecute me.