Last month, I indicated that it's not how I thought it would be. Yet I don't think I had a clear idea about what it would be or how it ought to be. I visited the monastery and I felt called . It was as simple as that. There were, of course, complexities involved in answering the call, but it was clear to me that I would, so I don't really regard that as a challenging period.
When I say that I didn't have a clear idea of what my life would be that isn't the same as saying that I didn't have a sense of what the essence would be. What I craved at the time was to shed everything because everything, even good things, seemed to be a distraction from God. I craved the desert, at least metaphorically, and that's what I prayed for - a desert where there would be just me and God.
Well, surprise, surprise, there are all these other people around in community; there isn't just God and me. Every day I have to try to find God in them. Sometimes that's difficult - as I'm sure it's difficult for them to find God in me. It would be much easier if we weren't all so human!
But, at another level, my prayer has been answered. It is the desert because so much of what was familiar isn't here, but somewhere else, back in my old life. Living monastic life is radically different the more I live into it. The surface things are the same because I have food, shelter, warmth, basic security as I was fortunate to have before I entered. But beneath that is a different landscape, a landscape which tests me in ways I wasn't expecting and don't control. It isn't the desert as I would have imagined it to be but it's uncharted territory for me. It can be dry and unforgiving but I keep hoping to find an oasis now and then and trusting that I can keep travelling.
Karen Rose, OSB