It's now less than a week to my first vows and so over these coming days, I will be trying to chart, in pictures, this final period as a novice.
I'm just back from holiday in the lovely seaside town of Barmouth in west Wales. While there, I was re-reading old journals from my very first days in the noviciate. What struck me is how, slowly but surely, I have taken a new shape.
A lot of my old anger has been softened. Some of the pride melted away. I see the world with a wider vision and am more in tune with my sense of self and with God’s work in my life. In many ways, it has been a remarkable transformation: one that has happened not painlessly, but still gently and, day-on-day, almost imperceptibly. I can laugh out loud now at some of the brash and foolish comments of those first few scribbled months.
Today’s picture, of the Barmouth sands just after the tide had gone out, is as close as I can get to an image that explains what I mean. Each day the waters move in and out, powerful, inexorable, and each morning they leave behind a new pattern in the sand. Over time those waves also shape whole coast lines. And over these past two years, the inexorable presence of God, gently sweeping over me morning, noon and night, has carved and shaped me in new ways. The result, as it stands, may not yet be as beautiful as Barmouth bay, but I hope it is heading in the right direction!
The most exciting part is that this is only the start. One of the greatest privileges of these two years, and of what is to come, is the time we are given to pray and to find God in the movements of our day. As I have come to discover, it is by being open to these movements that I also become open to growth, progress, transformation, change (whichever best describes something that is often beyond words).
There are many more tides and currents, winds and waves ahead of me, but the ultimate reason I am taking vows in a week’s time is because I trust in this path. I trust God to shape and form me.