Have you ever had one of those moments where everything clicks into place? It's not that you're looking for it to. It happens in the most unlikely of places but somehow you mind lines up with your heart and your circumstances and click, a key turns, something changes. I, quite unexpectedly, had one of those moments last night. In the manner of fourteen year old everywhere I was at Church being Confirmed.
I wasn't really expecting much from it. I've been battling a cold for the last week and had I of had an option I would have spent the evening burrowed under a blanket on my sofa. But as it was I spent the late afternoon searching through my cloths for a dress that was 'smart casual' (dreaded words) and wouldn't shock the congregation or Bishop when I knelt down to be confirmed. Below the knee it is then.
I wasn't really looking forward to Confirmation because to be honest I wasn't sure what it meant for me. For most of the people there it was their public commitment to beginning this crazy adventure that is the Christian life. As one of the congregation pointed out it was hardly that for me because I'd been called and accepted to the priesthood before I'd even been made 'official' in terms of the Church of England. So what was it for me? Hoop jumping? Just something to get through? Cheer leading the other candidates? Switching allegiance to the Church of England? None of those really stuck.
The service was beautiful, a thirty strong choir, flickering candles, nervous but smiling candidates. The Bishop was there in all his regalia and popped over to check I'd started on my reading list for college (oh yes, I have). I was the first candidate to be confirmed and I walked up and stood before the Bishop who put his hands on my head and said:
'Nicola, God has called you by name and made you his own.'
Click. Something changed. As he prayed for me I kept my eyes open and in my eye line was the big gold cross he was wearing round his neck on the back drop of these cream and gold robes. My whole field of vision was filled with this ancient 'church-ness' that I normally find so overwhelming (and sometimes off putting.) It's not where I'm from. And yet....
One of the members of the choir came up to my husband after the service and said she couldn't believe my face at that moment. She said it was like my whole face was glowing, radiating joy. Well, I'm a cheerful person but that is something. I suppose it was that clicking in to place. That I felt it. God has made me his own, even here in this ancient institution where I feel as small as a church mouse. He has called me by name.
After the service I was chatting to some of the congregation who were commenting on how my rather unorthodox journey to this point has inspired them to think anything is possible. How wonderful. The Bishop overheard and said 'Yes, we're going to ordain her next,' and for the first time I believed it. This is where you'll find me. And for the first time I thought, quite right it is too.