As we travel through life, particularly on our faith journey, we all encounter defining moments which change our direction. These moments can be huge cataclysmic events, but more often than not they are small things, perhaps something we see in the corner of the eye, or an innocent word uttered by someone you may or may not be close to.
Such moments are thought provoking and stir our conscience. They can niggle and eat away at you until you reach a point where you can no longer ignore the fact that a previously held thought or belief will have to change. It can be a battle. It can almost tear you apart even. Doing nothing is easier, until you realise that this particular course of action is particularly unfulfilling.
I can trace my own defining moment back to the death of my father in 2012. A quiet man of high moral standards, strong in faith and a devout Catholic. In the immediate aftermath of his death I felt what I now believe to be the Holy Spirit filling me with a new found strength and purpose.
If you have ever tried something new and immediately had a sense of resonance, a feeling of comfort in your surrounding, a sure knowledge that this is the beginning of a lifetime commitment, then you will understand what I felt.
In the subsequent days and weeks, the niggles started. Something had changed within me but I didn’t know what. I suppressed it and put it to the back of my mind, until a few weeks later I had to confront it.
My wife , Barbara, and me had just spent a nice weekend away in our caravan, and on arriving home were greeted by our daughter Alison holding a piece of paper in her hand and a glint in her eye. “Dad you need to read this, there’s something for you”
It was the church newsletter, she had been to mass that morning and picked it up. There, amongst the usual mix of weekly notices, was a small piece about a meeting which was to take place in Liverpool for men interested in becoming a Deacon. I looked up at my 20 year old daughter to see a look of triumph on her face. Then I looked at Barbara and at that moment I knew the moment had arrived. I was at the crossroad knowing that I would have to make a choice, a life defining decision. There was a sickly feeling in my stomach.
I had a nice life, a wonderful wife, two beautiful daughters a nice home and a good job. I was a busy man, lots to do, why should I take on this added commitment?
I looked again at this piece of paper, holding it in my trembling hand. It was calling me to a meeting on a Saturday morning at 9am. I checked my diary. It was the morning after a big event in Manchester that we were attending. It was usually a late night and early morning affair, not the sort of occasion to be up early from the following day. Maybe that would be a good excuse not to go to the Saturday morning meeting in Liverpool. If I overslept, maybe that would be Gods way of telling me the Diaconate was not my calling! I would soon know……
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