“Can you visualize your conception?” asked the counselor. “Can you accept that you were meant to be born?”
“No,” I said. “No I can’t.” I sat in a small group recalling past hurtful events in my life, I felt able to forgive all who had hurt me and to ask forgiveness for my own wrongdoings to others, but I could not accept that my existence was planned by anyone, let alone God. After all, my birth, in England had been the result of an affair that my mother had outside of marriage, and I had recently learned she had even tried to abort me.
I was two weeks old when my mother gave me to an order of Anglican nuns. The nuns raised me along with other children in a convent. Growing up, I fantasized that I was really a princess from a faraway land. And I dreamed that one day my African father would come and take me away to live in his palace. It was the beginning of dreams where I longed to escape from reality.
As you can imagine, life in a convent was a somewhat unnatural childhood, and unfortunately even included abuse by some of the workers. I emerged from it a desperately shy and fearful teenager, but I loved the arts. My high school teacher suggested I should pursue a career in that field, and again I dreamed of escape: perhaps I could be a singer, or a painter. The Reverend Mother had other ideas however and suggested that I apply to nursing school. I protested tearfully, telling her about my longings, but art, she said, was a lofty pursuit. I had to be practical and apply to nursing school. A good and noble profession, she said. Reluctantly I obeyed.
After three years of study I graduated as a registered nurse, fell in love, married and had children. All was well for a few years but then I had surgery followed by complications, and almost died. It was then I found out that my husband was having an affair. He would visit me in the hospital and then leave to be with his girlfriend.
Upon my recovery my husband suggested we immigrate to Canada. He convinced me the affair was over and that we would start afresh. As was often the case in those days, he left England first, to secure a job in the new place, and the children and I were to join him later.
When we finally arrived in Canada, it was to learn he was living with his girlfriend and we were alone in this new country. Fortunately, I had a friend here and she came to my rescue, taking my four children and me in until I found a house to rent.
It was during that lonely and frightening time that I began to attend a church in my neighborhood. There for the first time I came to believe that God was there for me, but now sitting in a group session, I was surprised at the gamut of emotions that ran through my mind, as the counselor assured me that God had planned my existence. I had actually come to the course thinking of it as a training session to help others, not realizing that I had issues to deal with myself.
Now I sat listening to the counselor. “When you go home tonight,” he said, “ask God to show you your conception.” I didn’t know if I was prepared for that, but considered the suggestion and acknowledged its importance. I realized that subconsciously I was apologetic for my very existence and it was affecting every aspect of my life.
“God,” I said, as I lay in bed that night, “please show me in some way that my conception was okay with you.” With eyes closed, I waited then watched in amazement as a bright yellow flower shaped in the form of hands cupped together appeared before me. It was like a giant tulip viewed from the side, with the head flexed forward. The head was made of thousands of slender petals overlapping one another in waves. The flower swayed fiercely in a strong wind that tore some of the petals off, but it remained resolute and tightly closed. Then I saw a tiny fetus curled up inside and I knew it was me. I realized the strong winds represented my mother’s efforts to abort me.
God had not allowed my destruction and I marveled at the knowledge. If he could protect me then, surely my life now, was in his hands! As I watched the bright yellow flower swaying, I thought: ‘My favorite color, yellow!’ Had I seen it then, even in my mother’s womb?
I cried at the wonder of it all and in the crying was healed.
Published in Beyond Ordinary Living magazine June/July 2006