This evening we received photographic evidence that Michele has entered Carmel. Her mom snail mailed us a two color printouts of pictures taken of Michele in her brown postulancy dress and white veil. (Since the the images probably wouldn't scan well, I'll have to see if I can get digital versions to share at a later date.) I can assure you she's positively brimming over with joy. Also included in the envelope was a postcard of an aerial shot of the monastery. I must admit I had really been hoping for a note of some sort, however short, from Michele, or even a few lines from her mom about their last days together, but that wasn’t meant to be. When feeling a twinge of sadness that I didn't receive some thing from her before she left, I was quickly reminded by the Holy Spirit of the many beautiful blessings she brought into my life for the brief time she was in it, and I soon felt sufficiently ridiculous for wanting something tangible (other than the cute bumblebee pillow she gave me months ago) to remember her by.
Here is an excerpt of the hand-written (slowly, as my writing can be something quite atrocious) letter I mailed Michele the week before she entered The Sisters by the Sea:
I already miss you a lot and am grieving that I won’t have you nearby to talk with about anything, to laugh and cry with, to text and be silly with, to pray and discern with (in person).
I know we’ll be connected through prayer and that the Holy Spirit will let us know when the other person could use some extra prayer cover without cellphones, e-mail, or Facebook being involved.
This isn’t a “goodbye, have a nice life” letter, as I don’t intend for this to be our final goodbye, and God-willing, I hope to remain a part of your life always.
I am excited for you as you begin a new journey and a new life in a place that already feels like home. I’m sure it will take some adjusting to have your own proper bed to sleep in, new pajamas to wear, and sturdy, good-for-your-feet shoes to walk around in, but I’m sure you’ll get used to these simple comforts.
I know you will bring The Sisters by the Sea a great deal of joy, laughter, and smiles. I hope and pray they will soon see and embrace your sensitive spirit and determined heart, and recognize how precious you are to the Lord, and what a tremendous addition you’ll make to the community (provided, of course, they don’t have a cheese pump or another appliance easy to disassemble and clean, but impossible to put back together.
I laugh when I think of you telling me that you feel like you should warn the nuns what they’re getting themselves into by welcoming you into their fold. You just can’t put your spirit, vitality, joy, and personality into words. You must be present in all of your Michele-ness to be experienced and appreciated fully…
…As it says in a beautiful song by music missionary Danielle Rose from the album Pursue Me she wrote when she felt called to enter a cloistered convent, I will always “see you in the Eucharist.”
Along with the letter, I included a cute little wood and felt bumblebee and a couple pages listing some of my favorite memories with Michele. She texted me right up to and on the day she officially entered. Kevin and I went to Mass at St. Benedict’s that evening, so that’s where we would be praying when she went into the cloister at 3pm (Pacific time). St. Benedict’s is where we first met Michele, one of the faithful members of the daily Mass attendants there.
I think of her often which means I pray for her several times a day. When Kevin and I have gone to places we’ve been with Michele, we talk about whatever funny thing happened or amusing story she told when we were last there with her.
I had to laugh the other day when a girl at camp came in wearing a Wonder Woman T-shirt, because it reminded me of the text I got from Michele in the weeks before she entered asking me if I thought it would be okay if she got Wonder Woman underwear as part of the dowry she took with her to the monastery. I chuckled and replied that I didn’t think it would be a problem, provided it didn’t cause a scandal on laundry day.
I miss her texting or calling me to ask if she can stop over for a visit. I miss her coming to the door, greeting me with a smile and a big hug, then asking me for juice. She usually preferred my version of a “mixed drink” which consists of a Mango and Berry blend Juicy Juice mix. (Kevin and I don’t drink alcohol, so mixing juices or a root beer float are about as hardcore as it gets around here.) Often, Michele would request some cheese and crackers or some sort of light snack to go along with the fruit juice. (Along the lines of, if you give a mouse a cookie…) She’s also the one person who has come over for a visit and been perfectly comfortable curling up on our loveseat and taking a nap soon after she arrived. I like the fact that Michele felt so welcome and comfortable at our place.
I sincerely hope that she is having a smooth transition into her new life as she’s been preparing for it in many ways over the past couple years in her prayer life, personal affairs, and giving away and/or selling her few worldly possessions.Lord, thank You for the gift of friends who bring us closer to You just by being themselves. Amen.