Our friends, the Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery in Kentucky, (whose joy-filled tribulations we followed through last winter’s media-ignored ice storm) having recently clothed their postulant as a novice were rejoicing last week as they announced the upcoming reception of yet another young aspirant to their cloister.
It was lovely to read of their new aspirant, but then reader Robert H passed along this very moving post from that convent-minded young lady, as she closed her blog to pursue her vocation. It gives a beautiful glimpse into the contemplative mind, and the passion-drenched love of a soul who wishes to live within the mystery of Christ’s own passion – which is certainly a mystery the contemplation of which can take a whole life.
I TURN MY FACE TOWARD JERUSALEM
I come to the door of the house, carrying my jar of ointment, still wondering what possessed me to come. As I bribe the doorkeeper — who knows me — to let me in, I wonder what He will do when I touch His feet. If He should kick at me, it is only what I deserve, but if He does before I can anoint Him, what then? What then? No answer comes. And now I am already inside, burning under the hostile gaze of everyone in the room. Oh, God, it is a regular dinner party! They all know, they all accuse, they all wonder how I gained entrance. Even the maidservants stare.
But there He is, and he is not looking at me. He is attentive to a conversation which He has just begun with someone on the opposite side of the table — almost as though He is deliberately distracting attention from me — and others are joining in now, too. The oppressive, silent accusation is lifted, and I make my way to Him. As I remove His sandals, he doesn’t flinch, and I begin to weep. He is letting me touch Him! He is letting me touch Him without fuss or ceremony; I didn’t even have to ask! As my tears fall on His ankle accidentally, I realize how dirty these feet are. Whatever water I can, I use; my tears shall cleanse Him even as they cleanse my heart from so much worry, so much shame. All my memories of sin, I pour out of my eyes; all my wishes to begin again as a new woman, become tears to wash away the dust on these precious feet. But what shall I use to dry them? Even my clothes are tainted by my past life — I cannot dirty these feet anew by using defiled veil or dress. But my hair is mine, God-given from before I fell away from him. Pulling back my veil, I loosen its combs and let its coils tumble down. Gently, I dry away my tears and try to calm the tremors in my stomach and hands. How can He be allowing this? He still has not even looked at me!
Finally I reach for my jar. Though this ointment cost me nearly all my ill-gotten fortune, it now pales in the face of what this wandering prophet has given me. I no longer desire any vestige of my sinfulness, any remnant of this life, and I break the neck of the jar on the stone floor, emptying its entire contents on the feet before me. The noise and smell which soon overpowers the room immediately bring attention back on me, and I hide my scarlet face by bending and kissing once more His now-pungent feet.
Then I hear his voice and feel a gently hand on my head. “Simon, I have something to say.”
Read it all – this young woman’s gorgeous meditation gave me goosebumps. Catholics who are familiar with this sort of almost Ignatian method of meditation will relate and feel inspired. Non-Catholics who wonder how it is anyone can “run away” into a cloister may come to understand that there is no running “away.” There is only a running-toward, in deep passion and in even deeper trust.
Pray for all of our young (and not-so-young) men and women who serve all of us through their prayers and service, for the sake of the Christ. The world is not friendly toward them.
Deacon Greg has more on contemplation