Let's catch up
Hey there. Remember me? Remember when I used to post every Friday? I miss those days. It’s been pretty quiet around here for the last six months or so, and there’s a perfectly good reason (or at least I think so) for my elongated silence.
You see, I’m entering the convent. The convent! Maybe you’ve heard? Maybe you’ve been one of many, many recipients of my exuberance lately? Maybe I’ve alluded to this marvelous, hidden, precious journey over the last year in your hearing, or have told you about one of those “retreats” I went on in December, or March, or June? Or maybe you were there on July 19 after I got the call and in the days to follow, when suddenly I had the blessed freedom to proclaim my news from the rooftops. Maybe you’re that toothless man I saw at the park, or that fellow nanny on the playground, or the UPS man, or the lice lady, or that friendly waitress, or an old coworker, or a dear, dear friend.
Whoever you are, thank you. Thank you for letting me share my joy, for allowing it to well up and overflow and multiply. For listening attentively, for asking questions, for expressing your honest disbelief or awe or shock or amazement.
Countless times over these many months I’ve ached to type it out. I’ve had post after post brewing in my mind, my fingers longing to fly over the keys as they’ve done weekly for so long. But it wasn’t time yet. There was much to share, plenty that wasn’t necessarily a public proclamation of my discernment of religious life, but everything, I mean everything, was informed by this new lens I’ve been looking through. Everything pointed to this hope and prayer and dream of mine. To this prospect of giving everything away, of moving back to my beloved New York, of entering into a radically different life, of becoming Jesus’ in a wholly unprecedented way.
But it wasn’t time yet, and so I waited. But now, thankfully, here we are.
Can I share some more with you? Do you mind? One of my favorite exercises of late is just to replay these past twelve or more months in my mind, to turn them over in my heart, to probe them in my memory, and to trace the hand of God at work so miraculously. He’s been there through desperation, and doubt, and sleepless nights. Through hours in adoration and in conversation with close friends, as I’ve wondered aloud and in the depths of my heart, Could this be? Well, here I am to say, yes. This could very well be. And while this entering is just the first step in a lifelong journey, and could end with professing final vows or not, it is an utter delight to share with you this hope-filled beginning.
So here we go.
It was September. I was a few months into a new job, feeling entirely unhappy and trapped, very much unlike myself. I lost who knows how many hours of precious sleep from worry about deadlines and PowerPoints and corporate clients. I spent my days in a windowless office, eyeing the clock and yearning for 5:00. Something had to give.
I then experienced what I can only describe as a perfect storm, a series of fortunate, or rather providential, events. First, my beloved roommate was deep in her own discernment, nearing the monastery by the day. Second, at the behest of my patient and persistent and fatherly spiritual director, I read Discerning Religious Life, a book by Mother Clare of the CFRs, a book that had been gathering dust on my shelf thanks to my closed-hearted stubbornness. Third, I went to Assisi. That stubborn heart of mine was timidly opening, partly out of sheer desperation to be saved. Fourth, days later, on September 29, the feast of the archangels, I shared a plane from Rome to New York with Mother Clare, the Mother Clare, whose book I had just read, who had just become the Community Servant of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, who decades before had chosen St. Raphael, the patron of happy meetings, to be her confirmation saint, who that morning had asked God to arrange for her a happy meeting.
I prayed for you this morning, she said. Suffice it to say, that was just the lightning bolt from almighty God that I needed to jolt me into action, to throw wide open the door to Christ, to set me head over heels into a divine romance that is gloriously unfolding by the moment.
And that’s only the beginning.
The months that ensued have been rather less dramatic, but equally wondrous. The story goes on and on. There have been other moments of profundity, yes, but more often has Jesus revealed Himself to me and steered me in this direction through quiet hours of prayer, through gentle stirrings of my heart, through small but unmissable signs of confirmation.
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. These words of Jesus’ in John 16 have been echoing in my heart and mind, and I mean them for you now, too. Or perhaps it’s me who can’t bear to share more just yet. But I will.
One of my dearest hopes for these waning weeks before I enter the CFRs on September 29 is to share. To tell you the much more, the ins and outs of my journey, the words of encouragement that have been so helpful to me. I’m on a mission, you see. There is a dearth, I find, of resources for people like me, or for women a few steps behind in this complex journey of discernment. My story is just one, and God’s movement in each heart is entirely unique, but I cannot possibly ignore the urge I feel to write and write and write, in the hopes that even one person out there may benefit.
I echo the words of John Henry Newman: I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.
So, please, stay tuned. There’s so very much more.