The pull to go to the Convent had become consuming. I felt a strong need to be set apart from the world so that the Spirit of God could do its work of sanctification within me. I didn’t know at first if I was physically strong enough to complete the program, but by God’s grace, and with a whole lot of love from the Sisters and my two beloved fellow Companions, I began a year in the Companions Program that I will always cherish.
Once I arrived, I discovered that this “hospital” I had come to for a spiritual overhaul was even more than I expected.
The other Companions and I prayed and worshipped, both privately and corporately with the Sisters. We took classes together and read books together. We studied the Rule of St. Benedict. And we looked at what life in Christ is really all about, what it means to love God with all our hearts and to love his people as ourselves. We learned about Lectio Divina, and we met in groups to practice different forms of prayer. Day by day, a space was made for me to be open and to share how I felt. I found out that being open and vulnerable, while risky, was necessary if I wanted to be made whole.
God helped me to realize during my time in the Companions Program that for now I could set aside some of my questions. First I needed to focus on my relationship with God. I came to see that along the previous leg of my life’s journey, some of the ideas I had picked up about God were wrong. I had taken bits and pieces of scripture and turned them into what I believed was true. I had this image in my mind of a God that punishes. This image of a punishing God had not helped when I came up against the biggest spiritual struggle of my life. Instead of being able to turn to God when faced with tragedy, I believed that I had been abandoned because I had failed.
Day by day, living here in the Convent began to change this. We prayed together. The Sisters and the other two Companions loved me and prayed for me. They shared scriptures, songs, and videos that were meaningful to them. I was accepted by all of them as I was, and for the first time, I did not feel I needed to do or be anyone else but me. More than that, I realized that this was the person God also loved and wanted and waited to be with. I found out that God is love.
Here in the Convent, there is rhythm and balance. There is time to worship. In a wonderful and inexplicable way, the rhythm of life here even givens time back. There is time here to seek God’s face, and to soak in the rich meaning and symbolism of the liturgy. My ears actually hear differently here.
Life at the Convent has helped me to understand true freedom and real peace. It is a life that restores to wholeness through a common bond of unity and purpose. It puts relationships in perspective. We want to see everyone as Jesus sees them. We want to love them as He has loved us. We work together contemplatively and with purpose: To show hospitality to all. To fight for justice and peace. To speak for those who do not have a voice. To build relationships on the strong foundation that we are all God’s children. And to glorify God in all that we say and do and are.
In July, I was admitted as a postulant. I believe that God called me, and brought me here to set myself apart, to equip me with instruction, and to send me forth with a mission to show to others the care and healing that I myself freely received.