My CR Journey
One never knows where a simple question will lead. My daughter and her husband were students at the College of the Resurrection and I had enjoyed many delightful visits with them, including the Christmas I spent with Elizabeth preparing for their wedding in January 2003.
This had been another lovely visit. We were on our last country ramble together, making our way up the final steep bit of the footpath when Elizabeth said to me, “Mother, have you ever thought of becoming an oblate of some religious community?”
I blinked. Well, yes. I had, actually but only vaguely. For many years I’d felt drawn to this life. I’d read of oblates’ experiences in times medieval and modern. I’d been intrigued. I had gone no further.
It seemed a good idea but what to do about it? Well, there was always internet research. So I began my sporadic surfing. I even got so far as to send queries to a few houses. They were quick and polite in their replies: "Thank you for you interest in. . . however, we are a community of men and do not accept women oblates." "Thank you. . . however, in order to come together in community we do not accept overseas members." ". . . do not accept members of other faith groups. . ." So it went on.
Then one day, quite “by accident”, I turned to the Anglican Religious Communities Year Book which I had used over the past few years for booking retreats and pilgrimages. In the back I found the article “Reflections on being an Oblate, Tertiary, Companion or Associate,” by Marion G. Fry, herself a Companion of the Community of the Resurrection since 1963. A woman and a Companion of the very Community where I had enjoyed so many hours of worship, study and companionship! Still, I dithered for several weeks. I didn’t want to be told, “find a Community closer to home,” or to be given some other reason why I wouldn’t fit.
After some more dithering and exploring I finally wrote to Fr. Aidan. I’d had no vision, heard no voice, no hand reached from heaven to give me a push. It was just a natural progression. It seemed the right thing to do.
Easter of 2004 I was back at the Community for the birth of our grandson, Dominic Ambrose. Two days later, before I headed back across the Atlantic to my patient husband who had not been able to make the trip, I was admitted to the Fraternity of the Resurrection. It was in the Resurrection chapel, a lovely semicircular chapel in the apse, a simple service of psalms and responses. I knelt before Fr. Aidan and, my hands between his, made my vow to follow the Companions’ Rule. It was the same list I contemplated so carefully before beginning this undertaking a year ago: to live under the authority of Christ and the New Testament, to give priority in my life to worship by taking part in the Eucharist every Sunday and witnessing to Christ in all areas of my daily life, to cooperate with other members of the Fraternity for mutual encouragement and support, to seek every opportunity of learning more about my faith and to seek to live simply at all times.
However, as so often in life, the end was really the beginning, or at least a bridge. One thing my relationship with CR has led to is the development of "The Monastery Murders", my series of clerical mysteries set in a fictionalised Community that will be readily recognisable to anyone acquainted with The Community of the Resurrection. My American heroine’s background is based closely on my daughter’s, although I hasten to add that my fictional Felicity’s personality is nothing like Elizabeth's. Most of my monks are fictional but I took the liberty of using my beloved Fr. Dominic as my first murder victim in A Very Private Grave. I hope he is amused.
To learn more about "The Monastery Murders", to see a video trailer of A Very Private Grave and pictures of my research trips, please visit www.donnafletchercrow.com.