21 September 2010

Weekend at a Convent

I spent the weekend at a convent, and it was good. I went expecting to meet God, and I was not disappointed. I had given myself permission ahead of time to waste time with God and others. As for my time with others, the only negative thing I can say was that the conversation and questions raised were too interesting and delightful to be part of! It was the kind of fellowship that you hope for and yet still are delightfully surprised by. But at the same I also wanted to spend time with God alone and listen/talk with Him far enough away from a world that had felt confining and confusing in the last little while. Although it took some effort to put aside both my book and the delightful distraction of others around me, it was worth the effort to hang out with God. I emptied (again) before God all of what had been happening in the last while, especially the pain, confusion, guilt, and anger involved. This release to God felt much needed - and although the presence of the others might have felt like a distraction from this really good part of the weekend, I think the laughter and delight in meeting the others made it easier to face with honesty the challenges of the last time. Even if I wasn't willing to share what I was struggling with, sharing in the laughter was enough - perhaps another time/day, it will be good to share more.

One of the best parts of the weekend was a strong feeling that this kind of religious life is for me (albeit transposed to a less Catholic setting and as a married person). One way was in getting some perspective; to be reminded that we are not the only community with its share of quirks - and laughing at these more would probably do me good. And another was the fellowship - the delightful sense of getting to be yourself and have opinions and puzzle together through things and laugh together; in all of these things, to celebrate the other person for who he/she is. Certainly with time, fellowship becomes more challenging because we bump more into how who each one of us is sometimes exasperates others - and then we have to learn to make space and celebrate the other still. And this is what I want to strive for in living in community - and even if it's hard and sometimes exasperating, it is worth the effort - as this glimpse of delightful fellowship let me see.

And perhaps the part that is the most confirming was the sense of having been ready to meet God. Even if I'm not always present for the daily prayers here (physically or mentally), even if I struggle with doing fellowship well, even if my goal of Sunday with God doesn't succeed so well, and even if I feel overwhelmed sometimes with things here, my normal life has still been shaped to be open towards God and others. And thankfully, even when I don't do as well as I want to in being open, God gently finds ways to meet me and remind me of how it can be - and how much I can delight in that.


Katharine said...

Hmmm... Intentional living in exasperational community. That's a catchy marketing slogan!

Seriously, I'm jealous of your experience in community. On the other hand, the thought of it scares me to death. Funny dichotomy. God is good.

Brenda said...

What a wonderful way of putting it: "intentional living in exasperational community"! Perhaps I'll borrow it sometime - I think I could say a lot about the Christian life being full of intentional exasperation :)