Monday 25th September, 2017. 5.15pm on the train home from the Service of Commitment at Lambeth Palace.
‘Here I am’ is a phrase I have connected with at various points in my life. It began way back when I was a teenager. I was on our annual Girls Brigade summer camp, and the last night is always a talent show. I distinctly remember a younger girl getting up and singing beautifully ‘Here I am Lord‘ (Dan Schutte, 1981), based on the words of Isaiah 6v8 and 1 Samuel 3. Both these passages in the Bible are about God calling people and their response is ‘here I am’ – in other words, ‘okay I’m ready, tell me what to do God.’ I thought it was amazing how she could sing it with real meaning in every word. I longed to be able to do the same. It was the first time I remember hearing the song, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Fast forward a few years to finishing A levels and I went with my Duke of Edinburgh team friends to the Isle of Wight walking for a few days. At some point we stopped on a beach and three photos were taken on my camera which I only realised when I got them back from being printed (back in the day!) As I looked at them they reminded me of the words from the song the girl had sung, and I wrote the words on the photos. I wanted to make it my prayer too, even though I wasn’t entirely sure how. I’ve had them stuck up in my bedroom ever since. Every so often when I glance at them I’m struck again by the person’s desire to whatever God wants them to.
And then today happened. I was officially made a member of the Community of St Anselm. In the service our Abbot, Archbishop Justin Welby, called each of our names out. As he did, we responded in turn by standing and saying ‘here I am’. It was a significant moment for me as I was reminded of those moments years ago when the words first spoke to me, and now how I have been called by God to follow Him in this particular way for the next ten months. And what is great is that it’s not just an individual call for me, but to do it with a bunch of people in community together; as we learn, serve and share alongside each other we will be working out what saying ‘here I am’ means for each of us.