I could only stay at the convent for three days and two nights. Then I had to get back for an engagement on Long Island today. I'll return tomorrow morning, to finish out the week with the sisters, their long retreat.
My more intense work has been finished each day by three in the afternoon. From then on, the day and the quiet were mine. Books, walks, naps, chapel prayers -- some of which I slept right through. I was more weary than I knew.
Did I miss the garden? Did I miss Q? The house? The cats, and the hummingbird? I missed all those things, but also treasured my freedom from their claims on me. What does this mean -- that I don't love my life? That I should have been a sister myself?
The sisters themselves, of course, do not experience their lives at the convent as one lifelong retreat. The convent is their home, the community their family, with all the pressures that come with home and family: shopping, cleaning, cooking, struggling to understand one another when no two are alike and yet the group must move forward together. This is life for them, not the respite it is for me. Community is hard, no matter where you go to find it. A challenge, whether it is a community of two or of twenty.
Throughout life, we are torn. Torn between one good thing and another, usually, between legitimate loves -- rarely do we face a choice between unmitigated evil and unalloyed good. Ours is a more nuanced struggle, but it is no less a struggle for being subtle.
What if I choose wrongly? What if I am not where I should be? How will I really know? God will give us the grace to live well where we find ourselves. Most of our choices may not be as apocalyptic as we think they are, and so we can relax a little about making them: it really isn't the end of the world, we can say to ourselves, as we take a hard look at our options and then decide.
Today: St. Peter's Bayshore, LI has its own organic garden, and the Geranium Journey will have a picnic in it at noon! Bring a bag lunch, see the garden, meet the director of wonderful Camp de Wolfe, who will join us today, and swap camp stories with Barbara Crafton. For directions, call 631-665-0051 or visit http://www.stpetersbayshore.org/directions.html