Saturday, August 13, 2005

order of the holy paraclete

ohp whitby Posted by Picasa

i went to visit ohp in whitby, england as an enquirer for a week. i was so excited to go and the trip there, though long, was incredibly beautiful. the bus from york went through the moors - very dramatic, barren looking landscape that lies flat and suddenly falls down in large, steep hills when you're least expecting it. sheep all over the land and in the road. low clouds - they look as though you could get up on a very tall ladder and brush them with your fingertips. it reminded me of connemara in ireland.

as soon as i walked in the doors of the convent, a voice in my head shrieked, "Aaaahhhh!!!!! i don't want to be here!!!! run away, run away right now!!!!" i decided to ignore that voice. it was not the still, small voice of god but the childish tantrum of my ego.

the sisters have 4 prayers of the daily office (lauds, mid-day office, vespers, compline) and the eucharist every day. their chapel (to the left of the photo, next to the CASTLE!) had kick-a$$ accoustics and their sung office sounded so beautiful.

i'd really like to go to africa and work with aids orphans which is how i came to this order. their mother house is in england, but they have houses in africa and one, in swaziland, works with abused girls. i met with the prioress who had lived and worked in swaziland and she told me about the work they are doing there and showed me pictures and articles. every molecule in my body jumped up and down for joy at that. but, as the week went on and i listened to my heart about this order and me i realized this just was not the place for me. there's no specific thing i could put my finger on. i mean, it's really fabulous there. i've heard some sisters say that when they walked into their convent for the first time, they felt like they were home. when i thought about leaving my beautiful garden apartment in nyc and my life here i couldn't see it. i would have to live at whitby for years during novitiate and who knows if i would indeed go to africa? actually, i'm wondering more and more how the schism between african theology and western theology in the anglican communion is going to work out. is there room for an alternative anglican in africa?

i was disappointed at first. i really wanted this to be home. my mother died in january of this year and once i discerned i would not be joining this order i realized that i felt even more alone, even more "homeless". but i feel better now - because it's so not up to me. i just remember that i'm not in charge here and more shall be revealed. and perhaps god is calling me right now to just sit in that lonliness and missing my mom and feeling like a 36 year old "orphan" instead of running to a new home and family. one of my favorite expressions is - when god closes one door, god opens another ... but it's hell in the hallway. i think i'm about to enter the hallway for a bit. i used to hate the hallway ( i've had really long stretches in the hallway, years at a time and that really is hellacious). but, i've come to appreciate the hallway more and more. it's a place of rest, whether i think i want a rest or not!


Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Blessings on the journey.

You never know who you might run into in passing in the hallway.

Purechristianithink said...

It's always hard when the road has more bends than you were planning on. . .

wellsavedbyHim said...

Interesting to read you comments about your visit to OHP sisters in Whitby.

I visited last month and hope to return in April. It did so feel like home to me, such a 'thin' place, so full of the Love of our Lord and with such a grace in the air.

I hope that God journeys you on in His ways:))

蔥爆牛肉Frank said...


Anonymous said...

I am going to sound very negative here, but I wish I had never really confided in an OHP sister the way I did through writing things down to her. I have been haunted by the things she said back and what I said originally ever since. I am rather flummoxed by some of the things suggested to alleviate my anxieties ...I find the evening office of Compline sinister and always have done since coming into High Anglican circles. The full habited sisters in another order seemed to be a little bit wrapped up (sorry!!) in their dignified highfalutin religion too..and am I tired to the back teeth (or should that be hooks?) of young girls pouring their hearts out on nuns' websites about whether or not they may wear! ...well, it's playing to the gallery of fascination and it's reinforced some real problems with Catholic girls. I had a friend in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal who seemed totally convinced from page one of our relationship that I should know about such things. It became so weirdly boring...The internet is contributing daily to these horrendous people...male and female. Why has it gone to convents.?..I don't know...perhaps you may have an answer. It's shattered my courtships quite profoundly.