A month to write a letter

Here in the UK we often talk about the weather, whether it be this week's rain or last year's sunshine or snow. Extremes are rare, and therefore well-remembered and often referred to: the winter of 1963; the summer-long heatwave of 1976; the unheralded hurricane of 1987. Our memories are often overlaid with nostalgic imagining, so that childhood summers were invariably sunny, or camping trips always beset with rain. The reality is that we might struggle to remember what the weather really was like in a particular year or season from our past, unless it was part of a significant event. 

But last month I realised that I had no difficulty in remembering the weather thirty years earlier. August 1993 was much like August 2023: warm, but not unbearably hot, and pleasantly sunny more or less every day, with only occasional heavy rain. In August 1993 I had some time away, but mostly, outside of work I was at home, where I spent hours enjoying my patio - reading, relaxing, caring for my plants... Life was good; the present was pleasant; I enjoyed my work, my flat, my independence and solitude whenever I wanted it; the ease and comfort of my life... And yet... And yet... Hanging over this idyllic, sun-drenched month was a life-changing letter I needed to write.

In July I had asked the Novice Director about applying to join the Society of the Sacred Heart. The next step was to send a letter to the Provincial, asking to enter and saying why I felt called to this. Putting all this into words - to someone I hadn't yet met - felt daunting enough, but that was only part of what held me back. Primarily, I was all too aware that, once written and sent, this letter would radically, irrevocably change my life, in ways I would undoubtedly find challenging and discomforting, even with their promise of permeating joy. 

I had also heard that the Provincial was likely to be away for most of August. So, she clearly wouldn't see my letter until she got back - which gave me another reason to spend the entire month intending to put pen to paper tomorrow! But alongside this I also knew that, however much I delayed, tomorrow would come; would have to come. The letter would be written; I couldn't not write it. Something within me, stronger than me, was impelling me in this direction with intensity and an insistent inner fire... and continued impelling me, through the final few days of this oh-so pleasant, comfortable, sunshiny month... Until, on the very last day of August 1993 the fateful letter was written in a sudden burst of words, and speedily put in the post. 

And two weeks later, now thirty years ago, I had my first, very positive meeting with the Provincial who accepted me into the Society, and into a new adventure of love, into the depths of God and the heart of our world.