To Do The Truth in Love
by Sr Tamsin Geach o.p.
‘Father, I think I may be going mad’
‘Have you ever thought of becoming a lay Dominican?’
This is more or less the beginning of my vocation story. I was doing pro-life work full-time, and finding the relentless round of contemplating horror after horror was getting to me. I finally thought: ‘So it’s true that killing babies is wrong, but that is not the Good News of Jesus Christ.’ Something had to be done!
I was brought up by parents who were academics and eccentrics, a redoubtable force in the C20th Catholic intellectual scene. Both of them were converts, and brought to their faith an almost ruthless thirst for truth. No question I brought to them through my growing up was swept aside, though they did give me the wise advice that if something in the faith seemed too difficult or puzzling, I should make an act of faith and await understanding, which would surely come, in this world or the next.
At an emotional and intellectual level therefore I was completely convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church from an early age. The question of vocation was another matter. From an equally early age I was persuaded that marriage was my calling, and it was not until I was seventeen that I questioned that idea.
At that point I saw Mother Theresa, and I was hugely impressed by her and thought ‘Maybe God is calling me to this way of life? Or to be a nun?’ I then made a sort of compromise with God: ‘If I’m not married by the time I’m thirty, I’ll think about it.’ I forgot about it, but God did not.
After that at intervals the question would come up again, and again I would sweep it aside. In my mid twenties I had a profound encounter with the Love of God, which changed my entire outlook. I started to see that my truest happiness lay in doing His will. I then had a look at a Benedictine house and decided very quickly that I had no Benedictine calling. I concluded cheerfully that this meant I had no calling to religious life.
Shortly after this I became involved in doing pro-life work. I had my eyes opened to some of the harsher realities of life, for the women I accompanied suffered much, from abuse to mental health issues, from cockroach infested flats to homelessness and exploitation. I quite literally saw the blood of unborn children spilt on the street (by a man collecting for a cosmetics company). And in that time the love of God became the most important thing in my life.
I spent seven years doing pro-life work, and the conversation I relate above (with my then confessor, who happened to be a Dominican) was when I was about half-way through. I became a Lay Dominican, and it was great, but somehow not enough. Slowly I began to feel that perhaps God was calling me to a deeper commitment. I think the hardest thing for me to accept was that I was also in need, also the object of His love, and that to let myself be loved by Him would be my lasting happiness. I remember asking Him to show me that He was calling me, that it was not just my own idea. And He did, and so I came.