This is the fourth in my series of posts about my complete spiritual about turn. Before I start I should have explained in my last post that when Jean’s husband told their story he gave permission to retell it if I felt it was appropriate because it is a story of hope for recovery.
On with the story then, the next thing that happened was I received a ‘phone call from Bridie, who I spoke of in my last post. She was very excited and said she had something to tell me. Because she is such an upbeat, entertaining character my normal reaction would have been to chill out and have a coffee with her, but something held me back. I made an excuse not to go.
She rang again the next day, same reaction! I didn’t want to go and made another excuse. She then rang for a third time and as I was about to make my usual excuse when I found myself saying, “OK, I’ll come over now”. I thought, “why did I do that?” For some reason I didn’t want to know what she had to say.
As I explained, Bridie has a strong belief in God, the power of prayer and an unshakable conviction that love overcomes all. And, to be fair, I had seen this at work in her life many, many times. She is, if you like, a Mother Theresa/Desmond Tutu of her patch.
At this point I would like to add a disclaimer. Memory can be faulty but what I am about to recount is, to the best of my recollection, what happened.
This is what she told me. Her immensely spiritual brother ‘phoned from Ireland to say that he had been suffering from insomnia caused by vivid dreams waking him in the night. He ran this by his parish priest who suggested that it might help him to get back to sleep if he wrote them down.
It seemed that he had been receiving a message citing the urgency of a world day of prayer for peace to avoid the inevitability of dire consequences. I kid you not! At this point I wanted to bale out! This was mad, but politeness made me stay and anyway I hadn’t finished my coffee.
The parish priest then recommended he take the “message” to the Bishop in Belfast, which he did, who said he should get the message to the Archbishop of Westminster. “And so Bridie, I want to get this message to him”!
I felt myself going cold as Bridie starting huffing about “how ridiculous, how on earth could I do that? Where would I start”. I said, “Bridie, I’m sure Jean has met him”. Jean moved in rarified circles!
I called Jean saying that we would like to visit because we had something to run by her. She graciously agreed and said that now would be a very good time as she had her sister visiting from the States and they were just about to sit down to English “Afternoon Tea” and would be delighted to have us join them.
Half an hour later saw us sitting down in Jean’s elegant drawing room, drinking tea from china cups, eating warm scones and relaying our odd story. When we had finish Jean said “Well ladies, thank you very much for sharing this wonderful story with us. Now, what I am about to tell you will knock your socks off!
This year has been designated “The Year of the Family” and next week I have been invited to speak at Central Hall, Westminster on the effects of alcoholism on the family. Present at this meeting will be church leaders, including the Archbishop of Westminster . So give me your message and not only will I passed it on to him, I’ll also give it to all the other leaders.”
To say I was stunned is an understatement. All I could blurt out was“I don’t believe this, it’s madness”. Jean’s sister then looked deep into my eyes and said “Ann, why don’t you just trust in the Lord and all these things shall be added unto you.” I looked right back into her eyes and said “I will” - BOOM!
My best inadequate explanation of what happened to me was that something inside me changed. The real explanation was that I had been filled with the Holy Spirit. And if you are a non-believer, as I was, it's hard to take isn't it? But hey, this is my experience so deal with it.
It was the beginning an amazing journey.
Before I close today, I would like to add that Jean’s sister was speaking from her heart and seems to have (deliberately or mistakenly?) mixed two bible quotes “Trust in the Lord……” that appears several times in the bible and another quote from the American Standard Version “But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. I'm happy to be corrected on this point. Discussion and/or education is good.
Whatever! It was like an arrow straight into my soul.
"If your vision doesn't scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small."
- Brother Andrew