Grieving Nora Roberts sits by the memorial for her recently deceased husband and son, begging God for a sign. Deeply religious her faith has kept her going, but in this, the darkest of hours, she begins to doubt. In the silence she receives a message, which is to make her small prefab bungalow on Canvey Island in Essex into a place of pilgrimage and worship. An energised Nora begins her mission, and she transforms her home into “Mary’s House.” But as the clock strikes six Nora remains alone, neither community members nor the Lord join her. Her faith wavers again. As Nora is hampered by her doubts, local postman Michael steps in. He gathers the wider Canvey community together to fill Mary’s House with people in need. As the clock strikes six, Nora’s purpose becomes clearer- she’s here to serve the community and finally knows she’s in the presence of the Lord. Canvey is England's Lourdes is a film about hope, grief and the power of belief.
Our adaptation comes from 1 Kings 19 in the Old Testament, which tells us of the Prophet Elijah who is struggling to hear the Lord. He is afraid and beginning to have doubts, fearing that God has abandoned him. Elijah is looking for God in a big gesture, but it isn’t until he comes to him in a gentle whisper that he listens. The Lord offers comfort and ultimately gives him strength to continue. This resonated with us and the story of Canvey is England’s Lourdes because Nora is adrift and fearing God’s abandonment. She waits and waits for a sign, but it is in the quiet stillness of Canvey Island marshes she finally realises he’s always there, and she will never be truly alone.