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Nicola's Bohemian Rhapsody

When I am at my best I am a morning person, friendly and approachable. If you hear someone singing in the kitchen, it's probably me; if you hear someone giggling during morning and evening prayer (and sometimes during the Gospel - sorry Fr. Daniel!) again, it's probably me. However, I also have a medical condition that leaves me feeling very anxious and nervous of people or situations; I have what can very simply be described as post-traumatic stress, left over from a series of events that happened long before I joined the community. I didn’t cope all that well back then: I shut myself away and therefore lost a lot of confidence in my ability to perform sometimes even the simplest of tasks. Although I tried to hide it as best I could, I came to the community devoid of energy and feeling really quite inadequate and unsure.

So when I got out of bed the first day to go to morning prayer it was very strange, but just by being there I was forming part of the community, and encouraging others to come and pray also. And every day that I attend Mass, or contribute to discussion groups, or do the washing up, or even just sit in the living room and rest, I am welcome company to others (even if I do get up far too early and sing Bohemian Rhapsody at the breakfast table!). When I made banana cake a month or so ago, it was really quite groundbreaking and significant for me just to try and do a bit of cooking, and I was also able to raise a smile when I took it to church to share it with others. Above all, what I feel that the community is trying to instill in me is that they want me here at St. Peter’s, not despite my illness but because of it: it is part of what makes me the person that I am, a person that they want around, and a person that God is able to use in His ministry.

And as for me, now that I have come to realise and try to accept that I can’t do this all on my own, much as I would like to, God has begun putting into my path people who are willing and able to help, sometimes more than I could ever have asked or imagined that they could. And, somewhat inevitably, as soon as someone holds my hand and turns on the light, suddenly the monsters in the cupboard that have had me hiding under the duvet in fear aren’t all that scary at all. And in the morning, when I open the doors of the community house and see the vast countryside for miles around and breathe in the clean air, I am reminded that this is a new day, and although that doesn't eliminate the troubles of the past or the worries and fears of the present, it does give me many reasons to be glad.

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