IT WAS a 'silly little thought' that crossed my mind when I was 18: "Why 'make' more children when so many exist but live without love?"
Two years later I left my home in Germany, fully convinced that God would eventually lead me to work in an orphanage in Africa. But He had different plans. I ended up in London and soon realised that those deprived children are everywhere, of any age and from all over the world. They are our neighbours, our workmates; they are found in every layer of society; top managers and cleaners, doctors and prostitutes, musicians and the unemployed – all are 'children without love'.
Ten years on I'm a celibate and live in a former convent. But I'm not a nun. The original mother house of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor is now home to two families with six children, two couples, seven single men and eight single women.
Like the nuns I pray in the chapel; however, I don't kneel down in the benches but sit in a comfy chair or walk around the coffee table. A few people have managed to play some wonderful old hymns on the organ, but mostly we play guitars, tambourines and bongos. I don't know what the saints on the stained glass windows make of it!
One of the most driving thoughts which led me to vow myself to celibacy aged 24 was "you never know how long you've got". I want to make all my life count for eternity. Marriage is only for this present life. I had always wanted to get married and have my own children but reading the scripture in Matthew 19:12 ("He who is able to accept this, let him accept it") I thought, "Yes! Surely only by the grace of God and 'because it is given to me' – but I can take it."
The All Saints Sisters centred their lives on prayer and service to the poor, especially children, and kept the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They recognised them as a 'threefold cord by which the believer is bound to God – a binding of love through which one is set free'.
We too are seeking to be 'bound to God' and as celibates to have less 'attachments'. This is why I am celibate. In this way I seek to love 'children' who have not known much love. Not a silly little thought – but a gift from God.