This last couple of weeks has been a looking back and looking forward as I prepare for vesture on Sunday. I have found myself thinking about events that happened a long time ago and seeing the threads that have brought me to this place, this time, this call, and I’ve been reintegrating them into my journey now.
I’m been particularly thinking about people who have impacted me and particular things about them that shaped me. My Dad gave me a love of words and an understanding of the importance of Story as a frame for life. Mum gave me music – one of my earliest memories is listening to her orchestra play when I was still small enough to sit on Dad’s knee. Mum and Dad always encouraged me to be myself, to be strong and courageous about my choices in life – even when those choices were different ones!
Helmut Shaffer, my secondary school science teacher, encouraged my inquisitiveness about the natural world (what Celtic Christians call the “book of Creation”) and gave a joy in learning that has never left. Colin Milne who taught me English gave me Shakespeare and his wonderful people and helped me see the beauty in the world of people. At University I was gifted with Professor Paul Morris, Professor of Religious Studies, whose jovial humour and sparkling wit conceal a razor-sharp mind, a deep love of people, and a huge knowledge of Jewish history. He gave me history and faith: the history of the Bible and the faith of the Jewish people, and finally understanding context in my search for God’s place in my world.
Richard Foster, founder of Renovaré and author of Celebration of Discipline and Prayer, showed me the mystics: that it was possible to live a deep life with God in the midst of the muchness and the manyness. I treasure the memories of the conference I heard him speak at in 1995, where his gentle self-deprecating humour and total honesty was a mirror of God’s love.
Dr Chris Marshall at BCNZ gave me deep, abiding, quiet faith linked with flawless scholarship. His lectures on the Crucifixion fell into the realm of scripture meditations – the only time I have ever walked out of a lecture theatre in tears. Chris showed me that it is possible to have strong scholarship and faith – learning strengthens faith, rather than destroying it.
Frank Nelson brought me the sacraments and reverence for God. Anglican ceremonial became meaningful in Frank’s expression of it, and finding that church music was still sung as worship in church was a delight.
My wonderful husband brings love: love that is not afraid to challenge me (we’re two strong people!) but that is rich and varied and fun. My dear daughter brought a different kind of love: the love that suffers much: the caring, nurturing, protective love. Helping her to find the love that is God through our love has been a wonderful challenge and she brings joy and laughter – and frustration. I’ve had to learn to control that frustration and guide her as she grows. Taking the Little Way of St Therese out of the theory and into the world of preschoolers is an interesting exercise! It’s also given me a deeper understanding of God and how he views us – beloved, but sometimes frustrating!