July 16th is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. For a couple years now we have begun the tradition of making a visit out to the Carmelite Monastery just outside of town, on this feast day. This year we went with our friends the Boevers. Each child got a bag of Carmel popcorn to munch on for the drive. When the wheels hit the country road, the peace and quite consume me. There is such beauty and contrast between the bright blue sky and the green fields full of crops. I was smiling as I heard from the backseat three boys looking out the windows deciding what hills would be good for hobbits to live in and where they would build their Lord of the Rings cities.
When we got out there, we found the chapel locked. So we wandered around and found an open door. To our surprise we found a priest and he was able to have one of the Sisters open the doors for us. It was locked because they were preparing the church for Mass that evening with the Bishop!
Every time I come out here I imagine what life must be like for these women. They have given their lives completely to Christ. They NEVER leave the walls of the monastery. Lindsay made the comment that those twenty nine women are probably the happiest people ever, and yet they have nothing. Why can't I learn from them? I think of this every morning when I go to mass at the Pink Sisters. They are also a cloistered order of nuns. I watch this one sister in particular who is usually the first one in the chapel. She is ALWAYS smiling. Always. As she is kneeling in prayer. When she walks up to the altar to light the candles. As she is opening the gate for Mass. Smiling. Always smiling. Some evenings if I go back for night prayers, I look at her, smiling again, and wonder how different our days have been. We both began the day with Mass, and are ending it with night prayers, but what happened in between? What did she DO all day. I can go over the list of what I did all day...made food, cleaned up food, wiped bottoms, washed laundry, went swimming, drank coffee, browsed Pinterest, talked with friends, drove Sherman, vacuumed the floors, made more food, cleaned up more food. The list is endless.
I think of that smiling Sister. I want to be more like her.
We were able to talk with one of the sisters this time which was so cool! The only way to speak to them is through this turn table in the wall. You can't see them, there isn't even a screen. All you hear is this small, high, sweet voice through the wall. The kids all asked her questions, it was darling. One of them asked her what her favorite food was! She couldn't answer!! It took her a long moment to THINK of something to say! Finally she answered, "fruit". Lindsay and I joked that she probably offers up the privilege of eating that's why she couldn't think of anything. They are amazing, and I feel the need to get my prayer life and fasting in order.
This is what you see as you leave the monastery. As you leave this small, quiet glimpse of heaven.
May God Reward You.