Saturday, June 16, 2007

Checking into the World and Checking Back Out Again Contemplative Nuns Visiting Their Families

During the last five days I have enjoyed what we call a 'home visit.' Most of our sisters come from places quite distant from our monastery. Those who wish to do so can travel once a year for such visits. Two of my sons live within a twenty minute drive from the monastery and I see them when their busy bachelor lives allow. That turns out to be not often enough for my taste but I guess that is a pretty standard complaint from mothers with grown children. They are just doing their thing. My oldest son, the one with two little boys, is about a two hour drive away. My mother and father, ages 83 and 86 respectively, are poised to celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary. They live about an hour away quite contented in their own home still doing everything for themselves. Another factor for those of us who enter religious life at an advanced age is that, if we've been lucky, we have a long history of deep friendships in our lives. And the older we get the older our friends become and sometimes they become less mobile.

My five days was packed with visiting important people in their home environments where we could enjoy each other's company at a leisurely pace and in relaxed style. It also enabled me to really see how they were getting along in their real worlds. A day and overnight with an old friend who is now housebound, two days with the precious grandchildren enjoying cooking and cookie baking and the imaginative play of my three and half year grandson Nicholas, then another day and overnight with my parents filled my five days to the brim. There was lots of driving in between but that was good too. How beautiful the hills of New Hampshire and what memories came flooding in as I crossed Connecticut east to west. There I began married life, began in the teaching profession, adopted a child, bought a home and made many friends way back in the late 60s and early 70s.

But was it ever good to get home! Being with family renews connections, solidifies bonds and brings me to profound gratitude. But now it is a world and a life I only check into on occasion. The center of my life, the center of the life of every contemplative nun is the place where she is most available to God. How grateful I am for this place and this life! Isn't it extraordinary!

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