Last time I wrote about my time in Jamaica as a volunteer with a group led by Fr Michael Johnstone.
I was free to go on that trip partly because my husband had died in April 2018. We had moved up to Norfolk in 2012 after 38 years in the same house, moving only because Bernard was, interestingly, temporarily, almost completely immobilised.
Finally and reluctantly he had retired from the work he loved two years previously (at 83 years of age), and because we lived on the side of a hill, with 22 steps down from garage to house, Bernard had said “we need to move to a bungalow on a level plot” and that brought us here to Wells-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk. And that’s another story.
Bernard’s last several weeks were spent in Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and Priscilla Bacon Hospice. That was a life-changing experience in itself, but that’s another story. After his death in the late afternoon on the Thursday of the second week of Easter I returned to Wells and in time knew I would like to be in a “religious community” to be able to join in the life of prayer of the Church and to attend Mass as frequently as possible.
A lack of self-discipline meant that while I could regularly pray Morning Prayer on my own I only occasionally got myself to Evening Prayer. Mass in Wells was available on one weekday as well as Sunday Masses, and in this privileged part of the world, Mass was available at the parish church in Walsingham and at the Shrine. I was unable to establish a regular rhythm though.
The life of the Missionaries of the Poor offered more than I could have hoped for ‑ the Angelus, Morning, midday, Evening and Night Prayer, daily Mass, in community with others, and male voices singing and praying. Plus service to the poor. Sufficient to be simply another pair of hands.
And this extraordinary God we worship even more generously sent me to a place where I could dance on a paved roof, dance being the one thing that had become a pretty essential and daily part of my prayer life. But that’s another story too. There were two of us volunteers who were interested in spending a longer period working with the Brothers by the time we reached the end of our stay.
On return to the UK at least one of our daughters was appalled at the thought her mother might return to Jamaica for an extended visit, and as I injured my leg the day after our return, I decided to wait till it healed before making any decision. So what happens?
AND live streaming from, among other places, Walsingham – the National Shrine of Our Lady
AND Mass every day – three times!
AND the Prayer of the Church – three times
AND the rededication to Our Lady
AND lots of teaching
AND male voices
AND a new appreciation of the bungalow in which I live – I had decided to move out of it
AND peace and quiet
AND starry nights
AND stunningly beautiful days
AND Zoom meetings with family
AND not having to get into the car
AND time to be still
AND stillness to listen more carefully to promptings of the Holy Spirit
AND AND AND…
I am amazed at God’s generosity. And of course God has each and everyone of us in mind all the time and seeks only to bless us. Wow! Alleluia alleluia.
Pictured above is Prisca Hastings (third from right) with her fellow volunteers in Jamaica.