It’s not always easy keeping in touch with and seeing special friends, especially when they live four hours away, like Jean from Mitchell, S.D. does.
Jean is one of those forever friends you can count on for certain things. For example, I know that whenever we get together, there’s going to be a lot of giggles along with plenty of serious, thoughtful discussion. It’s a beautiful mix that is just part of the dynamics of our friendship; a friendship that is refreshingly circular.
But it’s been a few years now since I’ve seen Jean, and having a chance to meet up this weekend seemed like something of a mini miracle. Our last-minutely planned gathering came together so easily, I can’t help but feel the divine hand in it. In the end, at the very least, I think we can credit the nuns.
Jean had reached out a few weeks ago after I wrote a post admitting that, after spending so much time at monasteries, I’d developed a deep-down yearning to be a cloistered nun. Of course, this yearning cannot be satisfied. I’m a wife and mother of five and know that that vocation is what God has called me to. But there’s something so alluring about this singular-focused life devoted to prayer and God and living in a close-knit community as the nuns do. The peace I have felt during my visits to Carmel has yet to be equaled. It’s not such a stretch to see why, given the busy, chaotic world all around.
So Jean wrote in with a confession. She told me that she shares this dream with me, but she’s guarded about whom she tells because of the sideways glances it seems to elicit. After all, she’s happily married and Protestant, so what, pray tell, could she possibly be thinking?
In an email back, I assured Jean she’s not crazy and that we must discuss this more soon, in person; it had been way too long since we’d gotten together. Immediately, she shot back a note saying she’d be an artist-in-residence for a week at a school a few hours from Fargo, and could we find a halfway point and meet on Sunday?
I consulted my GPS to see what a halfway point might be, and when I realized it would put us in Wahpeton, near the monastery that has been my harboring place, I knew we’d found our meeting spot. Plans came together at record speed, and this past Sunday afternoon, we had our little convergence, which included a quick visit to the monastery and a several-hour discussion at the local Fryin’ Pan over pea soup and pie (and a few other palatable particulars).
I am still pinching myself over the chance to have parlayed with this lovely lady. I won’t go over the details of our visit, because what happens at the Fryin’ Pan stays there, you know, but I will say this much. We talked about the nun thing and agreed that there’s something more to this than a nonsensical yearning.
Having glimpsed this cloistered life, we’ve been allowed a peek at what heaven will be like; a time and place when all of the distractions and splintering and pulls in diverse directions will come together, and all of the extras will fall away and our gaze will be directed, clearly and pointedly, to the source of love, and we will move toward it, whole and heart-filled, and breathe deeply at last.
|Sunset that accompanied me home from Wahpteon, ND|
It’s something to hope for. The task now is to form ourselves so that we’ll be ready when the time comes. And if part of that forming includes a slice of pumpkin pie and a dollop of whipped cream with a good friend, well, the journey there can’t be so bad, either, it seems to me.
Q4U: When have your plans fallen together in flawless fashion?