Written on January 30, 2017
One year ago today, Grace entered the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, Nebraska, which is the motherhouse of a cloistered Carmelite order. I remember being the last one out of the guesthouse heading to Mass in the chapel, one of the few places visitors could be. It was cold and the large Mission-style bells started pealing out over the beautiful farmland. They rang out for so long and so loud calling us to Mass and calling her in.
It was work getting everything in order for her entrance and getting 11 of us there. But here we were. Wishing time would stand still. God’s grace swept us along and the enormity of the moment overcame us. Tears flowed freely and would for days.
We had some time for individual good-byes and then one last group hug. It is difficult to put into words how this went and so much of Carmel life is to be hidden. I won’t be able to share all. We had total peace and trust about what she was doing. And then it was done.
We have only since seen our daughter behind the grille. If she stays, and she can come out anytime before final vows are taken, that last hug is the last time we will have physical contact with her. I think most us grew up not realizing that this still exists, men and women choosing this monastic way of life. It is so counter to how we all live. So old-school. So other worldly.
On our long, quiet journey home, Cash said to me, “You had all the time with her.” He meant because we homeschooled that I was with her all the time. It’s true and I’m so grateful.
Sharing a bit of this and your amazing responses and prayers means a lot. If you think of it, pray for now Sister Marie Elizabeth and the other men and women in monasteries. They are for sure praying for us.