I go on saying ‘Yes’
I first received a call to full time Christian service in my early 20’s when I said “Yes” to God and entered the Church Army, an Evangelical Society within the Church of England.
I served as a Children’s Missioner (being invited into Parishes conducting special after-school programs for children) for 13 years. I loved the work, but I began to feel that God was calling me into a deeper relationship, into a way of life that was totally different and outside my experience. Nuns were those strange women covered in black from head to foot; was God really calling me to be one of Them!? I knew the Franciscan Brothers from Alnmouth in the north of England, working with them for a number of years during the summer running a youth camp. I also worked with a Brother on a Parish Mission with three religious women, each from a different community, one wore a black habit, one navy blue and the other brown--a Franciscan Sister. To my surprise they were quite ordinary; in fact, they were fun!
Going to church on Corpus Christi I felt that the question of the Religious Life was weighing heavy on my shoulders. As I went up to receive Holy Communion, I said “All right God, if this is what you want of me.” I waited three days, feeling a great sense of peace, then wrote to my Spiritual Director. He replied, “I’ve been waiting for this,” and suggested I gave the Franciscans the first refusal.
I made a visit to the Community of Saint Francis, at Compton Durville in Somerset, and arrangements were made for me to test my vocation beginning in April the following year. Once it was known what I intended to do, Family and friends tried to make me change my mind. “You are already doing God’s work” they said. Most thought I was taking a backward step. One friend said “What more can you do as a Franciscan than you do now”? I replied, “It’s not about what I will do, it’s about being, what I shall become.”
That first evening at Evening Prayer, I looked round the Chapel and said to myself “I’ve come home.” I felt that all that had gone before was a preparation for this moment. Spiritually I had come “home” to where God wanted me to be. Wherever I have been in CSF, I have felt at home.
Saying “Yes” to God is not always easy or straightforward, it is not a one-shot deal. I have found that I go on saying “Yes.”
On the eve of my Life Profession I wrote a poem which began “Yes, Lord, I accept your call, of total commitment my being and my all.” I have discovered over the past 36 years more and more of what it means to say Yes to God, living into my vocation, becoming, I trust, more of what God wants me to be. Sometimes I am asked “If you had it all to do again would you still say Yes?” My response is in the last verse of the old hymn by Henry W. Baker:
Finding, following, keeping, struggling
Is He sure to bless
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
and to that I say, AMEN.