Not all comments concerning posts on this blog appear here. The posts are fed directly to my page on Facebook. Yes, I have a page on Facebook - lovely for networking with family and friends but also part of vocation outreach. When these posts appear on FB, readers can enter a comment immediately. One responder to my last post concerning the realities of monastic contemplative life said, "It sounds like being a nun is hard work." Yes, indeed. But I would not be providing a total picture if I did not speak of the other end of the spectrum.
I am not accustomed to publically sharing moments of surpassing contentment or joy. Generally, I tend to be a bit suspicious of those who would seem to float perennially on a cloud of sweet marshmallow fluff and describe every detail of the experience. But is it fair, or healthy for that matter, to offer a reflection on life's realities without speaking of joy? The human desire and capacity for joy is stubborn in survival. In the wisdom of unspoiled youth, Anne Frank, reduced to hiding in an Amsterdam attic as a persecuted Jew, could write of joy in contemplative viewing of the landscape. She wrote ecstatically of shinning sun and greening trees. From this was born resilent hope for a better future.
The joys of my religious vocation flash in memory, illuminating generalized sensations and specific experiences. On Christmas Eve, 1999 I received a phone call informing me that I had been accepted for entrance into this community. As a school librarian I could not enter until the academic year was over. I simply did not know how I would make it through that busy time. I was so eager. On the day of my entrance, July 22 (Feast of St. Mary Magdalene), I had to wait until 5pm to knock at the door of the monastery for the entrance ritual. The day stretched long and anxious. It was so good to finally be here. Days later, I remember resting during the afternoon's silent time and thinking, with a Cheshire Cat smile on my face, "I was made for this." It was pure joy, however influenced it may have been by beginner's enthusiasm.