A most beautiful word: acceptance. Connotes belonging, kinship, communion, wholeness. It is the oyster shell of that pearl which is the never-ending act of loving and being loved.
But I have news to share, not poetry. The Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus have accepted me! I am preparing to enter at the end of August, on the feast of St. Monica. There are many things of a practical nature to tend to, and still in the midst of all this business, I desire to plumb the depths of my soul and attend to what My Lord is doing there. This is the first time I have been able to explore those realms in writing.
This season is so much more than my experience of how I feel about joining the convent. I am, of course, thrilled, but feelings are fleeting. What is the enduring something that is stirring within me these days, in the wake of such prospects?
Acceptance to the convent means so much more than a feeling of elation, of joy, of acceptance, of the confidence inspired by the discovery of a definite vocation. It’s a perspective shift, a path that suddenly curves around a bend, a dazzling array of thoughts, emotions, actions, dreams—all colored in new, fascinating hues that project love and trust, ever deeper, ever growing.
I am filled with joy at the idea of joining. People have been congratulating me…even coworkers who aren’t Catholic, or perhaps not even Christian. And I am experiencing true freedom—that freedom which comes from “selling all I have to obtain the pearl of great price.” That has been the gospel reading at some point (or maybe multiple points) this week. I am receiving so much joy from giving away my “stuff”—my clothes, my coffee mugs, my books—to people that I know will enjoy them. It gives me greater joy to give these things away than I ever experienced in simply owning them for myself. And this is the anecdote of just one consequence of my acceptance, just one recurring experience of God’s love. He is anointing me in many other ways too, only a fraction of which I can understand or express in words.
I truthfully have no idea what it is like to live as a bride of Christ. But I am looking forward to it. And I am praying especially for faithfulness. That I may be faithful to Him. That I may be unwavering in hope. That I can discover my earthly home among the Handmaids and remain there, as if in a tent on Mount Tabor, and sing for the rest of my life, “It is good for me to be here.”