I went to Mass yesterday evening I’ve been feeling a lot better. The wonder of the sacraments! It’s still not quite all there, God doesn’t feel as close as He has in the past but I don’t feel that vast separation that I did before. He is still distant but more reachable and I have more hope than I did before. I’m realising that there will be times in my life, religious or otherwise, where I feel this distance from God. There will always be ups and downs in my spiritual life and for me I think this is the first ‘down’ where I haven’t completely lost hope. So that on its own is a huge step for me and I feel very appreciative of that. It helps me to realise that even in times of spiritual dryness there is hope and that there are always opportunities for learning and growth. I’ve realised that even though it can be difficult, the experience is always what you make of it and if you are open to learning from the experience then you can always make it a positive experience.
I haven’t really posted that much about discernment recently, which is funny considered this is a discernment blog. I’m going to Carmel in a few days, just for a meeting with the Prioress and I’m quite excited about that because it’ll be my first contact with any religious community in hopes of discerning so that’s exciting on it’s own. I’m feeling less of a draw to Carmel recently and more back towards St. Cecilia’s, which was the first community I felt drawn to. I’m retreating there in a few weeks, sadly only for two days since I had to shorten it due to my new semester timetable. I’d also put Tyburn Convent on hold but they replied to my letter and sent me a load of stuff about them and now I’m feeling kind of stuck in the middle again. Hopefully my visits to Carmel and St. Cecilia’s will help this, I know there is only so much I can think about and pray about and a huge part will be that feeling I get when I first make contact and as I get to know the community. I don’t have the time to retreat at Tyburn before my new semester starts but I’m going to go with these two meetings I’ve got and if those don’t feel right then Tyburn may be put back on the table, so to speak. I might put it back anyway to be honest. I suppose it may depend on how I feel about Carmel and St. Cecilia’s. Obviously if one of them feels so completely right then the others will again be off the table.
It’s very strange thinking about visiting a community and thinking that this place may be my future home, these women may one day be my sisters and one day I may be making my solemn vows and binding myself to that community for ever. In some ways it feels very invasive because I feel like these communities have such a special bond and I’m coming as a stranger to them and asking to be considered to join them. Obviously that’s the only way it can work but it does make it feel quite odd to me. I hope that as I find the community God is calling me that sense of awkwardness will go away. I am by nature quite a nervous person around new people, especially new groups of people and I do feel that same sense even when I’m around people who are established groups of friends and I’m new. I expect these communities will be expecting me to be nervous and they will have had the same experience as I am going through now. That is very reassuring and that makes me feel better about those nerves that go with the first contact.
But overall I’m really excited to start this journey, with myself, God and my hopeful future community.