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Entering The Convent, The Orthodox Way


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He is risen indeed! :winner: Everything was heavenly. We got home in the middle of the night, the boy fell asleep on the train. I cooked fried eggs and bacon and we had them with G&Ts sitting on the kitchen floor before crashing into bed. I just got up - could do with a longer lie-in but making meatballs for the feast after Agape Vespers this afternoon at church.

So happyyyyy!!

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Blessed Pascha, Marigold!!!


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Wonder what is in the basket? Wellll... check this out!
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Edited by AnneLine
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Visa interview in one week! :)

I'm starting to think about whether I should be preparing inwardly in any particular way (the externals are about as prepared as can be, i.e. the packed suitcase has been sitting there since February - by the way, NOW Mother tells me there is a list of stuff to bring! This is called running on Orthodox Time!). I imagine the more spiritually astute of you are slapping your foreheads and thinking 'She's only getting to this now?!' but the reality is, I haven't been doing anything beyond going to the normal services and following the feasts and fasts etc. Though we did go on that whopper of a pilgrimage to Walsingham last month. I figured since neither my confessor nor abbess advised me to do anything out of the norm, I wouldn't.

So now what I'm thinking about is not major ascetic feats or anything, but the small practical things. Like waking up early, or getting used to not snacking between meals... those of you who have convent experience, did you 'train up' a bit beforehand or did you go cold turkey? I know that when I was living in I didn't prepare at all except for praying, but I was running on so much adrenaline that the changes didn't really impact me. This time, a) I'm there indefinitely, b) I'm a lot less naive than I was, and c) the last few months have been quiet, so entering will almost certainly be an upward change of gear rather than down. What do you think?

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Others may have other thoughts, by I think living the way you have been living is probably the best spiritual preparation you could do. After all, the Lord has given you a very interesting challenge over the last few months - just getting through homeland security! In some ways, perhaps the whole image of leaving your country to go to that of your monastery parallels the path of leaving 'the world' to go to 'the monastery' doesn't it? You leave people and things behind... but you journey toward other people and things (albeit 'things' not of this world in part, but also some tangible ones...)

My only other suggestion (based on my own experience and that of a number of friends and directees who have entered religious life....) block in some largish chunks of time into your day and week for YOU and for YOU and GOD. There will always be more people and more things to do that will lay claim to you over the next weeks... but never enough time to just be and be with God. Make enough time to read a book you loved (if your community won't let you do things like this); go for a favorite hike, etc. Just do the things you will need to stay centered and to have good memories. (I don't suggest starting a mystery novel however... made the mistake of doing that and wasn't able to find time to finish... found myself wondering at odd mments what the ending was... very distracting!)

On a practical level, if the monastic schedule is very different, you may want to ease yourself into it a bit - but they will do that, too. If you have any addictions like coffee... do start to taper those down or you will regret it. But basically, eat and sleep and pray and enjoy... think of it as kind of like a honeymoon in reverse -- time for you and God to get used to the idea of being in eachother's company more intimately.

If any of us can help you get stuff together (or figure out where you can locate it) I bet we'd be happy -- we can always send it off to the monastery ahead of you....

Anybody else?

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[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1335116502' post='2421865']
Those of you who have convent experience, did you 'train up' a bit beforehand or did you go cold turkey? I know that when I was living in I didn't prepare at all except for praying, but I was running on so much adrenaline that the changes didn't really impact me.
[/quote]

I started waking up early and praying 3 hours of the office. I also tried to practice some silence and (yes I'm embarrassed to say) practicing "detachment" from family and friends - made holy hours etc... I since wished that what I [i][b]had[/b][/i] done instead was sleep A TON extra and spend the last few days making [i][b]wonderful[/b][/i] memories with my family and friends. I wouldn't trade daily Mass and weekly holy hour for the world, but I wish I hadn't tried so hard to [b]be[/b] a nun before I was one.

The extra sleep would have served to bolster my week without any sleep (excitement, nerves, feeling like I was 12 years old with all the "mistakes" I was making mean't I had trouble sleeping for the first bit) and I imagine the homesickness would have been easier to deal with if I had some precious memories to hang on too instead of the arguing that went on. Of course my mom did have an awful hard time with my choice initially.... but if I had been a little more available and understanding it would have been easier for her. Not great but easier.

Mainly, I really wish I had 10hrs of sleep per day for a week behind me before I started. :pinch:

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[quote name='AnneLine' timestamp='1335119499' post='2421874']
On a practical level, if the monastic schedule is very different, you may want to ease yourself into it a bit - but they will do that, too. If you have any addictions like coffee... do start to taper those down or you will regret it.
[/quote]

I didn't read this AnneLine before my first post!! I laughed because I wished I had that advice when I was 22!!

Yes - the Sisters will get you on the sleeping schedule and they are understanding. BUFF UP THE SLEEP beforehand -- have I mentioned this? :P

Also coffee..... ah yes -- DO taper this. My community drank coffee but the Novitiate Sisters didn't have coffee in the morning before prayers. That was was a trial and a half. Interesting to note was how MUCH better my morning meditations became once I was professed..... I always had a cup before Office. It made all the difference in the world!!

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Double props for what Mantellata said about spending time with friends and family. Not just for your own memories... but so that your family and friends will have good memories, too.

I know I didn't understand when I went in (and frankly, until I was the one left behind by others going in) how hard it is for them, even if they are at peace with your decision. Because... for you, it will all be new, exciting, what you had been dreaming of happening... while as for them... it is more just plain absense and loss. I've helped several people find communities and go into them, and while I am happy for them... it is still hard to start to reach for a phone, or to send an email... and then realize that this option is no longer available for us. I wouldn't pull them back for a second, but the loss is real for your family and friends... and you will feel some of it, too. Which doesn't mean you don't follow your vocation, nor that you shouldn't be at peace with that choice... but in charity, I think we need to remember that this is hard for them, too... and cut all of ourselves some slack. Spend as much quality time with them as you can... but make time for yourself to process it, too.

[indent=1][i][b]Edited for an additional thought.. .[/b]my parents weren't happy with my choice, either, Marigold. Eventually my mother made peace with it, and ironically, shortly after she had done so (and I didn't know that!) God made it clear to me that I was not to stay. But I think perhaps we both needed to get to the point where we both had let go... and then we were able to listen quietly for God's will. My dad never made a lot of peace with my going in, and for months after I came out he would call at odd hours to see if I REALLY had returned or if this was some kind of a trick! But I've never regretted going in or coming out... I think because like St. Francis, I knew I had been trying to follow His will in and out... and it makes a huge difference....[/i][/indent]

As far as the sleep thing, I'm not a person who needs a lot of sleep, thank God! I probably averaged about 6 hours before I entered... but it was the schedule change WITHOUT lots of coffee that was a real hard one for me. I got my six hours alright... but only after about 2 hours of lying awake in bed without a permission to get up, or read, or do anything other than just lay there and try to get the memories to go away.... not ideal. My body wasn't used to going to bed at 9pm.... that would have been right in the middle of my night activities... and I was ready and willing to get up and go! However, getting up before 5 am was a totally different thing... and we didn't get coffee for the first few hours of our day, ever..... and during the winter, I know my prayer in the unheated chapel often consisted of looking as lovingly as a coffee-less AnneLine can look at the tabernacle, and a heartfelt albeit VERY COLD prayer that roughly translated as "I know you are God, and I hope You are having a good time, because I am not... but I am here for YOU, not for me...." And I think God totally understood....

The other thing I found very hard was missing my cat, who had slept with me for years. I had found him a good home, but it made the nights tough. But you will get used to it... and it is another little thing you can give God for souls....

If you have a favorite restaurant, or beverage, or place to go for a walk.... enjoy them and put them into your heart... those memories are part of what you bring in your gift to God.... you aren't leaving the world because it is bad... you are choosing your Beloved because following Him is better....

You're going to do fine....

Edited by AnneLine
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My advice? Sleep in a lot, enjoy all your favorite foods and drinks. Spent time with those people you love the most and relax. You have the rest of your life (hopefully) to live on a monastic schedule and try to become a nun. Enjoy what is in front of you now - God gave you that too. :)

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Yes..... I must remember that others need less sleep than me.

Ah - how sleep is a lovely thing!

(This fourth grade teacher is so excited when she gets 7hrs of sleep!!!!.... Demanding job oddly enough)

No coffee EVER Anneline?????!!! My oh my... now THAT is a heroic feat.

Somewheres I need to dig up my quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen which goes to the tune of the following (paraphrase) "Depriving an American Religious of her morning coffee is a cruel form of torture...."

Have I mentioned that I love the man -- if nothing else than for that thought alone! :smile3:

Edited by mantellata
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AnneLine, your post (#146, the quote button isn't working) completely has me in tears. The bits about family, not the coffee thing :) although I do feel your pain.

The whole business is just plain difficult and sad and awkward at the moment. I wrote about the phone conversation with my mother, and I've also been spending a lot of time with my best friend who is amazingly supportive for an atheist but has made it clear that leaving is going to hurt a lot. My baby sister I worry about a lot, because this is the same year that our parents are divorcing AND she's finishing school and going out into the big world. I want to get one of those tacky split heart necklaces where you each wear one half of the heart - I'd wear it on the same chain as my baptismal cross; I don't think the nuns would begrudge me it if it's for my sister to feel less abandoned.

Like I've said before, so many people being really sad (and happy! I've had a lot of happy too) has been a wakeup call. Part of me is like, jeeze everyone, I could have done with half this outpouring of love when I was miserable in college! It feels weird to have to leave in order to find out how much you're needed. Another part of me just wants to enter as soon and quietly as possible and trust that when they see me settled in and happy, my family will begin to be less upset. I'm not asking for banner-waving support, just tolerance and maybe acknowledgement that it could indeed be a fulfilling life for me.

Aaaah, I've hijacked my own question! Thank you AL, mantellata and nunsense for your sensible replies. I won't be exerting any rigours I don't think, but I probably ought to work on seeing both nine o'clocks in a day - and definitely strengthening the prayer. :heart: Sigh... I feel like it shouldn't have to be this complex.

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