FAITH MATTERS: My last wish for you

It has always been a belief of mine that whilst one can be born into a religious tradition, it does not mean that they are faithful. It is the awe-inspiring encounters that people have, and the extraordinary people that they meet during their life journey that truly opens their eyes to faith. I believe this to be true in my own experience.

My grandmother Jean Mildred Drury was ever-present in my younger years of life. She was an intelligent, talented, kind, funny and truly faith-filled woman. She was truly devoted to her faith and to her relationship with God. I fondly remember dinner time at Grans when we all sat down and said Grace together, usually over stewed meat. She was the sort of woman that “had to” drive her friends to cards because they were too old… she was older than them. It wasn’t until my later teenage years that I felt a greater connection with my grandmother. She was on the top of my list to visit when I was home from university. We would sit down and she would tell me stories of her adventure-filled life; these stories often getting repeated as she grew more forgetful. Upon her death, my grandmother left our family a letter to read. After the opening lines, the letter read:

My last wish to you all is to get to know the Lord Jesus. He is a wonderful friend to know. He was a true friend.

 It was at this time that I began to ponder my faith, something I had never really taken the time to do before.

One thing that I remember about Gran was the Bible that she kept under her side of the bed. It was huge. When she passed, she left it to my dad. If you saw my dad, he would probably be the last man you would expect to be a devout Catholic. His long, blonde hair; tattooed body; and lack of shirt are some visuals that characterise him. He is a surfer; listens to rock music; and loves to have a drink at the local pub. What people do not know is that he is a strong believer; he attends Church every Sunday; he is a steward of creation; and is one of the kindest souls on Earth. The Bible is a family heirloom of 148 years old. On my 32nd birthday, my mum and dad came to visit. One of the gifts that they gave me was the family Bible. Inside was written:

A token of affection and esteem

From George James and William Albert A Tribe

To their Dear Mother on the thirty-second anniversary of her birthday.

Just like my great, great grandmother, I had received this on my 32nd birthday. I felt connected to both my dad and my grandmother, and felt proud that my mum and dad had obviously seen my faith shining through.

I consider myself blessed. I had a wonderful upbringing with a loving family. However, life has not always been smooth sailing for me. Mental illness has always been on my doorstep and ready to enter into my life on any given day. It is in these times that I begin to question God and ask the cliché question of “why is this happening to me?” However, it is also in these times that I find myself praying, asking God to stop what I am feeling and to guide me in bringing me back to who I am. Faith is ever-present, even on the darkest of days.

Being a teacher in the Catholic school system has allowed me to meet people of faith who truly embody the teachings of Jesus. I have been given opportunities to deepen my faith and reflect on my spirituality. Teaching has also opened my eyes to the idea of encountering Christ through the students that I teach. Whether it be a smile; a compliment; a random act of kindness; or a statement of wisdom beyond their years; these are all signs that God is present.

Today I have a beautiful husband and a precious daughter, Alice Jean. My job is to educate children about God and facilitate the formation of faith. I continue to encounter God through nature, prayer, people and everyday experience. To mark the beginning of this year, I encourage you to reflect on what or who has awakened you and allowed you to deepen your faith.

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