Five years ago, I had a very distinct call to the religious life. After wondering whether I was going crazy, my reaction was something like “God, I think you might have meant the person next to me…. you can’t really mean me?!” With no-one to talk to about this, the thought was incredibly scary, and it made me feel completely alone – I did nothing to pursue this call.
At the beginning of 2010, I became aware that I was not fulfilled in the way that I was living my life, and that I was actually really unhappy. I began to think that maybe the only thing that would bring me “inner peace” was to find my true calling, and that this path may mean entering the religious life.
When an advert for Invocation 2010 fell into my lap, asking me if I wanted to learn more about religious life, I jumped at the chance! It was an incredible weekend, where I got a great insight into the religious life and the people who live it. I was happily surprised to find that they don’t live behind big walls with no understanding of life beyond, and that they a.) laughed at my jokes, b.) are real people and c.) do actually understand real life. The most important thing I gained from this weekend was the certainty God really does love me and wants me to find the path that will bring true fulfilment, and that there are people who I can talk to and share the journey with.
I left feeling that I needed to find a way to explore my calling and to deepen my faith.
It was on this weekend that I came into contact with Compass, and I was invited to join the group starting the next month. Compass is designed for young people to explore this Heart journey that requires space and time – it is not a decision that can be weighed up and made by your brain alone. I think my initial thoughts were “it’s only nine months, and hopefully it will just answer a few questions.” If only it was that easy…!
For years, I have followed the path that so many others choose; never listening to God in my deepest self, and never finding out what makes me ‘Me’ and what makes Me happy. In the space, silence and love of our Compass community, I suddenly realised that I was being choked by grief and anger that I had never given myself the opportunity to deal with. The nine months were incredibly painful – if I had to choose a word to sum up my journey, it would be RELEASE. I found a community of people who accepted and loved me with no conditions and no pre-requisites, and felt completely safe to open up and talk about my deepest questions and worries.
Before Compass, I always thought I had a good relationship with God, but I can honestly say that I knew nothing! Over these nine months, it became clear to me that God had been talking to my soul for a long, long time, but my brain hadn’t quite caught on to it! I found depths in myself that I never knew I had, and I now recognise that small space that holds God within me. I took a lot from the stillness and pattern of monastic prayer that we shared with the community at Worth Abbey, and found out that I actually have a huge yearning for the Silence that holds God’s voice.
Thanks to Compass and all those who journeyed with me, be it for one day or nine months, I am equipped with knowledge and understanding of the vows that will bind me to one community, and my fear of the unknown has dissipated. I know that however hard the choice may be, that God is holding me with his “eternal arms” and that he will never let me go.
Now that Compass is over, I need to find a way to move forward and explore on my own. I would like my next steps to be quiet, peaceful ones, trying to listen to God and what will make the ‘Inner Me’ happy. As Nat King Cole sang, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return”.
Now thanks to Compass:
I am loved,
and I am moving forward into a free and liberating future.
Compass has absolutely transformed me, and has enabled me to change my life for the better. I will never regret taking this path, and I hope and pray that I will be led down the right path, until I find the peace and fulfilment of God.