My family has had connections with the Society since its arrival in England in 1842. My mother and her 7 sisters and many aunts, great-aunts, and a grandmother were at school at Roehampton. I had two aunts and a great-aunt in the Society.
I myself joined 4 cousins and some other children in the Junior School for the summer term of 1931 to make our First Communion.
After three very happy and spiritually formative years with the Assumption Sisters in Belgium I reluctantly left for 2 years at Roehampton, where I was rather uncommitted, and, though intelligent, spent much time frivolously clowning and living on the surface. At no time did it occur to me that I might have a vocation! People like me, I assumed happily, did not become nuns, much as I admired and loved individual RSCJ.
One of these, Mother Mary Allpress, continued to keep up with me when I was working on a farm during the war – her question, provoked by my happy accounts of life and work, “are you sure that God is not asking more of you?” or something like that, started my reflection in another direction, and led to my entering the Noviceship at Stanford Hall (where Roehampton was evacuated to) in 1946. We moved to Hove for two years when the Roehampton School moved to Woldingham, and we, the novices, joined them in August 1948. In September two of us made our First Vows, the first in a long line of Woldingham professions.
The house had been requisitioned by the army during the war and much needed to be done for it to become habitable again. Consequently our normal austerity of life was even more austere at this time. One result was that there were not enough of the very traditional, dare I say stuffy, meditation books used by the novices, and we were allowed to use the Bible instead. For the first time in my life I discovered the God of the Scriptures, especially the tenderness and fidelity of the God of the Old Testament prophets. This was my first real encounter with God as Love, “an eagle teaching a chick to fly”, inviting me to “launch out into the deep”.
Years later I used as a “Meditation” theme, taken from a very simple child’s book of the Mass with pictures and simplified prayers, the Offertory Prayer which included the words “bless and transform this offering, to become Christ”, placing my whole being on the paten, and trusting blindly in the transforming power of the Word.
I spent some years at our then boarding school at Tunbridge Wells. There was a particular view from the house down to the valley below and across the Kentish hills opposite. I can remember experiencing God’s love as being expressed not just in human form, but by the whole world – the Teilhardian view of the Christification of everything. That “pantheistic” experience of the Heart of God at the heart of creation, sustaining and transforming all is very important for me.
At a more everyday level I have experienced the love of the Heart of Jesus through simple human encounters. This has often happened to me in new friendships, a casual passing encounter, on receiving unexpected “lights” in moments of darkness, but most of all I experience God in the vastness and beauty and lonely power of nature, seen or revealed by reading and learning from scientific research.
My Mantra is taken from the” Hebridean Altars”,
“Because Thou lovest me –
I am as one to whom all good has come.”
(April died in February 2013 aged 90. This reflection will remain on the website for a while longer, as a tribute to her. RIP)