For me it is an ongoing relationship with God. Like any relationship it is not unconditional and reflecting on my own path so far I think there was never any doubt about my faith, but more about a personal struggle of trying to understand where God was taking me, whether I was prepared to follow and when I wasn’t following what it said about me personally.
I grew up in the West Indies on an island called Saba. Very apt since I have just come from holiday in the area. When I was three we moved to Saba. My stepfather was a GP and was the only GP on the island. He was also the vet, the island has about 1,000 people living on it, no beaches although tourism is very big, famous for diving. We lived in a village called St John’s which was between the capital the Bottom and Hellsgate, so as you can imagine being between the bottom and Hell’s Gate was never going to be an option and a healthy dose of determination as a result!
I went to a Catholic school run by nuns. Although you wouldn’t think so, I was a tomboy, and always out and about and usually with no shoes on. No matter how hard my parents tried, every pair of shoes found its way over the wall or hedge. So a real test was when sister Agatha asked me to read at a church service, to which my response was that I couldn’t possibly do this as I didn’t have any shoes, to which she responded…. I am sure that God wouldn’t mind. So I did the reading without wearing any shoes. I am not sure if this was also testing the boundaries.
I was always curious why all my school friends were baptised and had their communion. What was I doing wrong when I went to church and attended Sunday school? My stepfather and my mother were not church goers and did not follow any faith as far as I was aware.
My mother always said that they wanted me to decide when I was ready to choose my own faith. Growing up in the Caribbean and having to leave home when I was 15 to brave the big world, making a living and then deciding to leave, was a time when I struggled with faith. I guess when you are self-absorbed in working out how to deal with what the University of Life is throwing at you I often felt that God wasn’t there when I needed him. Even today with the recent events in Paris I have really struggled to find where God is in all this terrible sadness.
Over the years from making my way back to the Netherlands, and then a seven year stint in Hong Kong I ended up in Cornwall 16 years ago, this is now my home.
Unbelievably before I joined the diocese in August 2008 I was working for an organisation based in green bottom! At least it was a green one!
Bishop Tim confirmed me in October 2012 and it was a truly amazing feeling which I can only describe as finally coming home. I just wished my mum could have been there. Back in 2011 my mother was dying and she asked me to look after her as her wish was to die at home. During this period we had the most wonderful, thought provoking conversations and I learnt so much about my mother which I wished I had known before. Although at the time it was very difficult for me to understand, she shared with me her faith story, a very simple one, that she had a deep faith. Her words: “Faith is not the building or being seen in it, it lives within you, it is deep and it is what makes you strong.” Truly amazing memory which has only helped me to have a strengthened faith.