I was not brought up in a Christian home but my parents sent me to a Convent School in the hopes that their rather difficult daughter would become a lady! I did not fulfil their wishes but I did spend a lot of time in the school chapel, (usually punishment), where I found a peace like nothing I had ever known before. I loved the smell of incense and the sound of the nun’s singing. I look on this time as sowing a seed that led to me being a Christian. Many of the Catholic teachings remain with me today, along with a pride in my Jewish heritage. My faith is still not shared in my family, indeed I am still considered to be the one who looks at the world through rose coloured glasses but not taken seriously.
When I joined the WRNS, I started going to the church on the base on Sunday mornings. It was something to do as I was never good at” lying in” because in was Sunday. My favourite service was Holy Communion and I longed to take part in sharing the communion. I started classes in preparation for this with a lovely Naval Chaplin who taught me a lot about the commitment that I was about to make. I was confirmed Michael and the bishop thought I was a boy in naval uniform rather than a pretty white dress!!!!
Once married to Roger and quickly becoming a Mum, I took my children to church and tried by fair means and foul to convince my husband to come too!!!! This was sometimes difficult and I often felt lonely in the church community, however, I continued to pray and feel God’s presence with me. I went to bible study weekly for six years and sometimes came home confused, feeling that “my God” would not agree with some hurtful fundamentalist comments made, especially when my husband and friends were not considered to be worthy of God’s love. I never believed them for a minute but often during this time I was in turmoil. I stopped going to church but never stopped praying and wanting to understand more about why people around me were being swept into worship that made me uncomfortable and excluded.
I made the decision to study for my degree and my main chosen subject was Theology and the philosophy of religion. I was forty years old and by then a mother of four. As always, my husband fully supported me and I often I felt that the degree partly belonged to him. My degree gave me the opportunity to devour the bible, search answers to my questions, analyse and discuss with my fellow students and lecturers. My interest in Christianity was complimented by World religions. I enjoyed legitimately attending many Christian and other faith places of worship, as part of my study. Two subjects that influenced me greatly were Liberation Theology and Ecumenism. I was hugely influenced by Brother Roger of Taize, Mother Teresa and the theologians of Latin America. In my heart, I felt that the separation of the Christian church was a tragedy for Jesus and I found something that I could feel in harmony with. Liberation Theology actually excited and liberated me!!!!Some words written by Liberation Theologians remain with me always and have a lasting influence on my own faith. At the end of my degree, I look back and feel that my faith became stronger but my relationship with the church most certainly did not!
A time of many blessings for me was being able to worship in different churches, when working in Papua New Guinea and sharing stories with missionaries from very varied Christian faiths.
Praying alone was part of my life and I felt OK with this. I have always believed in the power of prayer and that prayers are answered. Once home from Papua New Guinea, I met, at a village fete, the new vicar of Menheniot, who joined our table for tea. I was honest with her, that I considered myself to be a Christian but did not belong to any church. I would not be going to church in Menheniot!
A few months later, like a fisher of men, Margo invited me to join a group for women who wanted to understand Christianity, or were thinking of returning to Christianity. Not sure, I went along with the idea that I could leave at any time. Every Lent I made a commitment with the help of prayer, sometimes working on a difficult relationship or making myself do something I find difficult. That year I decided to go to Thursday morning communion. (but only through Lent!!!) By Easter, I knew that I could not be a Christian alone. I do, after all need continued teaching, shared thoughts and prayers and being part of the Church community. I no longer feel lonely in church which is a tribute to the Christian community around me. I thank you all for that. I had to search, read and understand but I know now that faith is not about knowledge alone. I understand that God IS working his purpose out. I am still on a long road of discovery. Age has made me accept that, for me, a perfect church, full of perfect people, for me, does not exist but a perfect God does and through his son Jesus, I will continue to grow.