Convent Operation

There are only certain places in todays world where you can go and learn about vows, silence, stillness and sacrifice. I didn’t know what I would find or who I would find and I kind of liked it that way. The space was mentioned to me by a mentor who had done her own wandering (literally through some woods and mentally through the narrow pathways of running an international charity) and came across the sign for a convent, knowing this was somehow the answer to where she was at.

I’m not sure if I think life is one big unreality but my naivety and foolishness is often exposed when I stop and think about the very real worlds that I have entered. Sitting in a bar in Texas I remember thinking of two “cowboys” who walked in, Oh it must be a special occasion, they’re all dressed up as cowboys. No Sally, oh no. Sally, they are cowboys! As I sat in the chapel of the convent, I looked at nuns and thought, wow, they are dressed up like nuns. Oh dear girl. In Texas you find cowboys and in convents you find nuns. And in case anyone was wondering, they dress the way they are because they are who they are.

Maybe this is whats at the heart of this “Convent Operation”. This is no dress rehearsal for the bigger performance. This is about putting on who you truly are and showing up!

It was such a gift to be able to sit and chat with Sister Geraldine during my stay. We chatted for an hour at a time. She listened, we both laughed and we were both incredibly present to each other. It was very special. On our second time sitting together Sister asked how I was, I replied “I feel creative and light”, she said, “Oh like yourself then”. This woman did not try and figure me out, she just seemed to know and see. Our first conversation had left me pondering many things. My heart was full and I had work to do!

As my first day at the convent unfolded I held three words in my heart. Vow, Esther and King. I spoke of my constant movement and opportunities to travel and be in various communities around the world. I explained that as I looked back I could only see things in a negative form even though my life has been full of so many rich experiences. I somehow thought, because I haven’t settled I was failing in some way. The response that Sr Geraldine gave me was that my roots were deep and thats why I was able to have the life I do, but what struck me the most was what she said about vow; “maybe your vow is your movement”. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that and quite frankly it somehow was a doorway to seeing what has past over these last ten years at least as a mixture of yes, mistakes and repetitions of unhealthy habits, but also a walking out and learning of vow.

Sister Geraldine gave me three biblical texts to look at on my first day at the convent. 1 Samuel 1, Psalm 139 and Luke 5. Over the next few days and weeks I am going to explore what I discovered and how the telling of ones story is the mission field of calling, courage and creativity.


Sally Cranham