One more thing about my trip: I stayed in the nunnery.
It’s a habit. (Hee.) Every time we go home, I make a point to visit the Congregation of St. Joseph, where my aunt Sister Mary Jane was a sister for over 60 years.
And I was only there one night, and half a day. I’m proud because I managed to wake up early enough for 7:30 a.m. Mass.
Every time I go, I leave humbled. Although a lot of the sisters I’ve known in my lifetime have since passed on, many there still remember me. My aunt talked of me often– they feel as if they were my family too. But they have been family to me. They’ve prayed for me about everything from serious health concerns to passing my college exams, to break-ups. They are incredible women, and they all carry such a light about them.
They were happy about my visit, since my aunt passed in 2010. Happy that I feel comfortable enough to come on my own.
Mostly, I was surprised how much I kept to myself and SLEPT. And no one bothered me, although many sisters approached me at meals and wanted to hear how I was doing. They listened with so much attention, but I wanted to hear about their lives, as well. Why talk about yourself too much when you have this much wisdom surrounding you?
The sisters understand the need for solitude, prayer, and rest.
I went to their library, and quietly checked out two books.
I noticed at meals, every sister would offer to take my tray– though they are all elderly themselves. As I am a good 40-50 years younger than most, in another setting it wouldn’t seem right. But they offered with joy, and would tease me if I didn’t allow them. It seems important to them to do their own work, and to be of simple service to others. They take care of each other as well, and living in a community seemed to be immensely therapeutic to them.
One of the highlights of my stay there, beyond the quiet and the SLEEP, was my chat with Sister Victorine.
She is 96, but more cognizant than I am half the time! We had briefly kept up an e-mail correspondence. I had asked around to find her, and she was in a wheelchair in the nursing home portion of the convent. She was slumped over, and seemed to be sleeping. But as I approached her, she snapped right to attention!
She couldn’t sit up in the chair, and her back is arched due to age. But her ability to recall details astounded me, and she spoke in a soft voice that mesmerized me. I sat on the floor, and gazed up at her in wonder.
I felt bad because she had given me her book last year, and I still haven’t read it. She wasn’t angry at all.
I confided in Sister Victorine about a problem that’s been haunting me for awhile in my prayers. I haven’t been able to make peace with it yet, although I’ve prayed constantly for an answer. I didn’t understand what God was telling me.
And that’s when I understood why these women are holy. Because they radiate PEACE. Being in their presence is calming.
She said that God has three answers for prayers, and that “He never says, ‘no.'”
Rather, he does tell us these three things:
2. Not Yet
3. “I have something better in mind.”
Hearing that third answer, I wanted to cry. So simple– but it feels right. That’s what I will remember from now on, when I’m frustrated or lonely. It’s the answer of a loving and gentle God. A Father who loves us and reminds us to trust and be patient. She reminded me that He is in control, and to just allow Him to work through me and show me the way.
God bless Sister Victorine.