Monday, July 20, 2009
Well, I've written of my experience with the Sisters of Charity, where I spent most of my time, but I also spent about a day and a half with the Dominican Nuns in Summit, New Jersey. (You'll remember them from their illustrious blog, MonialesOP).
I don't know how long I've been following their blog, and when I began to do so I certainly never imagined I would ever actually VISIT them! Just goes to show that God has plans we know nothing about until He springs them on us!
If you'll recall, I mentioned the train into Newark where I took a lengthy tour of the platform and stood out like a farm girl visiting a big city for the first time. (Ironic...I've lived in a large metro area for years and used to live in south Minneapolis where car chases, midnight gunshots and screams were a given!) Yet I was a fish out of water at Penn Station - Newark NJ. Amazing.
Sr. M., their extern, was there to pick me up, and seriously, what a dear, dear Sister she is! I found it amusing, though, that she led me into the guest quarters at the Monastery somewhat apologetically.
Now, mind you, I'd just spent a week sleeping on an industrial plastic mattress which was mostly worn out, and plastic pillow that made sleep nearly impossible.
I had expected that the quarters at the Dominican Monastery would be similar; dorm-style showers, a little cell with a bed, desk, and a sink, uncomfortable bed proper to poverty, etc.
So imagine my joy to find that the guest quarters were more suite than cell, including a desk, a table, a TV, a microwave, a refrigerator and more coffee than I'd seen in what felt like forever! (It was really the coffee that won me over). Oh, and the bed was SO comfortable! It was real, with a real pillow!
Maybe on second thought it was the comfy bed and pillow that won me over...hmmm...
I could not figure out why Sr. M was apologetic about this!
Anyway, Sr. M. told me that Sr. MC would be meeting me in the parlor in a couple hours, so I had time to get settled, visit the beautiful chapel, and pray for a bit. I missed most of the Divine Office at 3 pm (my mistake!), but made all the other Hours in my time there.
For those who aren't aware, the Dominicans in Summit are cloistered, so I was not able to enter the enclosure to have the same kind of experience as the one I had with the Sisters of Charity. In order to have that, I'd have to apply for aspirancy of 2-6 weeks.
Sr. MC and I sat in the parlor a great deal that day and the following, chatting about relevant and irrelevent things, and of course, got along famously. And true to what I'd expect from the Dominicans, I was given a couple books to read during my time there, for how can one ever visit a Dominican Monastery and NOT study? The very idea would be completely sacriligious!
It's unfortunate, but all I had there was one full day. I would have loved more time there in prayer, to follow along while they sang the prayer of the Church, to fall into the routine a bit more, and of course, have the solitude and time to contemplate the many questions which have arison on this trip.
On Thursday evening the Novices hung out with me for awhile and gave me some of their stories, which is always amazing. I love hearing how Our Lord speaks to others, how they came to enter the monastery or convent or abbey.
Our time was all too short, and of course, I continue to love the Dominicans. I was sad to leave on Friday morning. There is something about meeting people face to face, spending time with them, especially when our friendship is formed through our shared faith, that forges a bond in a short time.
I don't know if I'll be returning to either community; that is in God's hands. Naturally I'd LOVE to go back, but the question remains whether it's God's will, or my true desire.
Time will tell.