Posted August 28, 2012:
A Letter From a Reader

by a Sister from Scotland.

We at Restoration—the subscription department, the writers, and the editor—get letters from readers from all over the world, letters that challenge us and encourage us and make palpable the connection there is between us. Here is one of those letters.

Dear Fr. David,

I’ve just read my October [2011] issue of Restoration, and I thought you sounded perhaps a little sad—or at least reflective—in your article, "Who Turned Out the Lights?"—perhaps especially in the part where you were wondering if the "quick fix" articles in Restoration were as helpful as you’d previously thought. So I thought I’d give you some feedback.

I’ve been getting Restoration for about twenty years, I think. I can’t even remember when I started a subscription or even why, though I suspect it was a response to reading Poustinia.

That’s twenty years of cover-to-cover reading of every word of every article. I feel like I know you all.

That means that Restoration—and you all—have accompanied me through major stages and transitions in my life, and at every stage I have been helped by little touches of wisdom, joy, and interest in what I have read.

From 1989 to 1994, I was working as one of only two doctors staffing a rural mission hospital in Africa.

I had trained as an obstetrician and gynecologist and then had done a year in general practice, but now I was being faced with dealing with all the branches of medicine and with many unfamiliar illnesses and a large number of patients and families affected by HIV and AIDS.

To say that I often felt out of my depth is an understatement, but it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds. Lots of it was simple, routine, just being with the patients and the nursing staff, praying, trying to bring Christ’s presence to them and experience his presence in them.

Lots of it was lovely, but quite often I would get frightened and go into periods of darkness.

Then I’d get Restoration and without fail—it was almost uncanny—there would be something in one of the articles or more that would touch me directly, deeply, with exactly the words I needed right then.

It’s as if you were speaking right into my heart, or God was speaking through Catherine or one or other of the community, and I would regain peace, joy, and the courage to get up and go on.

Then I started to pass Restoration on to my friend Cecilia (not her real name), one of the African nurses I had become close to.

Her husband had been diagnosed with AIDS and had died fairly quickly and suddenly afterwards, and I had gone with Cecilia when she went to get tested and received her HIV positive result.

After her initial shock, she reacted with immense courage, doing all she could to survive until her four children were old enough to care for themselves and to provide them with an education and a home.

I know she gained strength and help from the articles in Restoration. I don’t know what in particular she found helpful as we didn’t discuss it, but from time to time she would write me a little note which went something like this:

"My dearest friend, you do so much for me. You give me my wonderful Restoration."

I didn’t do so much for her; on the contrary, I thought it was the other way round. But I did give her Restoration, and it was clear that it was a lifeline.

She was a beautiful lady in every sense, and in my opinion, one of today’s saints, and I am deeply grateful that all of you had a hand in helping her through those last years of her life.

So, you see, your articles may seem to you to be "a quick fix," but God speaks through them and acts more deeply than you can understand.

Since then, I have gone through several stages of my life. I have passed through South Africa, Angola, and Germany, and finally I returned to my native Scotland, where I live as a diocesan hermit in my caravan (trailer) hermitage just outside a small village on the edge of the sea. It is a tiny, isolated place where I can happily remain hidden.

So, there you are, Fr. May. Don’t underestimate the grace that is worked through those articles you might find simple. God uses them, and there is nothing else remotely like Restoration.

May God bless all of you in the Madonna House community. May he give you lots of color in your life, and his life and love to see you through the graynesses and darknesses, and plenty of perseverance to go on writing.


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One Man's Scrap, Another Man's Gold (July-August 2012)

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Milestones (July-August 2012)



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