Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the day I made my first (temporary) vows. I remember spending it in a wave of pure, overwhwelming, God-given joy, incredulous yet delighted that God was actually calling me (not a saint or a colossus, but me! - Silvana, with all my foibles and limitations). I was also bowled over by the kindness and loveliness of all the people who worked hard to make it such a lovely, memorable day, and sustained by the prayers and love of the 150 or so people who took part. My mum "had a cold", which meant she had to dab at her eyes all through the Mass; my dad looked extremely smart in the new suit he'd been made to buy; and magnificats resounded throughout the Digby Stuart chapel, and sang within my heart. The chapel itself was resplendent with lights and new Advent banners, while outside all was winter darkness.
The gift for a fifteenth anniversary is crystal, which feels very appropriate both for midwinter and for a religious jubilee. Crystal is a delightful, playful substance, which highlights and reflects the colours and lights around it, giving them new depth and vibrancy. It's lovely to look at in its own right, but somehow transformed and made so much lovelier by the myriad lights and shades which pass through it.
I'm sure there's a rich metaphor in there about how we should be - how I should be; reflecting the loveliness and the light of Christ, and in the process being transformed into something lovelier than before... And really, this is simply more about "letting all God's glory through", which I wrote about last week - and very appropriate when I recall that our vows formula begins with "to the greater glory of the Heart of Jesus".
Today is also the feast of St John of the Cross, who definitely makes it into my top ten of favourite saints. A few months ago I wrote of the part some of his writing had played in my journey (here) - so when the date for my vows ceremony was set, it felt like a happy coincidence. I've recently been re-reading Iain Matthew's The Impact of God, which is all about John and his writings. Despite - or even because of - the darkness and persecution he experienced, John's God is a loving, self-bestowing God, generously giving himself as pure gift. In chapter 4 Matthew writes He does not give in a general way... John's God enters to confront the person as if there were no other... 'he is all for her alone'.
John's God rejoices to say I am yours, and for you, and I am pleased to be as I am that I may be yours and give myself to you. And that, really, sums up how I felt and what I rejoiced to say to God in my own way, when I made my vows... and how I still feel, fifteen years and a lot of ups and downs later. So today, as I celebrate and give thanks for the mystery of God's choice of me and for all that has been - lows as well as highs - I echo back God's words to me: I am yours and for you, and delighted to be what I am so as to be yours and give myself to you...