I’ve had a pretty great run so far.
My faith was continuing to grow over the years and in general I was feeling pretty stable and satisfied in my that part of my life. I had the most amazing small church group and was feeling totally fulfilled and incredibly lucky.
And then things started to fall apart.
A nun I was very close to was reassigned by her order to France; I miss her friendship dearly. A priest who was both a good friend and my spiritual director, took a leave of absence and then left the priesthood. A friend I really looked up to—one I considered to be far ahead of me in her faith journey, left the church. Another priest from a different parish who I had come to know and love, left the priesthood. Some of my friendships started falling apart. People I thought I would be walking with the rest of my life just stopped responding to my calls and texts. I felt invisible.
It’s been an incredibly lonely time.
One beautiful thing that has come out of this darkness– I have become ever closer with my husband, who has been my rock. I’ve come to lean on him and share with him in ways I never have before simply because I’ve been forced to. Jesus always finds a way to give me a gift.
I went on a silent retreat this past Lent with the Benedictine Sisters at the Abbey of St. Walburga in Northern Colorado. It was a beautiful and transformative experience. As contemplative nuns, they devote much of their day to the word of God by praying the Divine Office in their beautiful chapel. The nuns sit in choir stalls facing each other and chant the Liturgy of the hours back and forth to one another.
I truly felt like I had been given a small glimpse of heaven that weekend.
I caught a glimpse of one of the young nuns when she returned to her choir stall after receiving communion— she sat there quietly, eyes closed and with a small smile on her face. She radiated pure joy, total contentment. I began to weep looking at her; I wanted what she had. I asked Jesus to reveal Himself to me in a new way that day; I begged Him to show me His face and to create a new heart in me.
I can see now that He has been preparing me.
He has been using this season of loneliness to draw me ever closer to Him. This “falling away” of all the people I counted on has revealed a presence in the background. As they faded from my life His face became ever clearer to me. I’m forever grateful for the encounter I had at the Abbey. When I’m praying the Liturgy of the Hours at home now (learned from the Sisters!), I think often of their beautiful voices in the chapel and of that sweet smile—the one that prompted a new desire in me.
“Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” Rule of Saint Benedict