A couple days after Christmas, my family drove down from Detroit to Nashville for a four-day visit. Since this was our only visit together at the Motherhouse until next year, I wanted to make the most of it. My family did, too.
The Sisters assigned each of the postulants a parlor to visit with our families. From breakfast to Evening Prayer, we spent the days together. I relished the opportunity to show them around the Motherhouse and introduce them to my friends, including Sr. Lucia and Sr. Mary Frances.
During their visit, my little sisters enjoyed playing basketball with some of the postulants and novices. They were very impressed by the Sisters’ athletic skills, and even more by the Sisters themselves. I loved seeing all my sisters enjoying my favorite convent sport together.
My parents brought me presents—practical gifts that could be useful in the convent—and told me stories about what had been going on at home since August 15. I talked to my older brother and sister on the phone, too. I was enjoying the visiting days so much, I didn’t want them to end.
On the third day, some foolish words on my part led to an unexpected moment of truth. It happened while I was introducing my family to some of the Sisters.
We had all congregated in the hallway by the Motherhouse's front entrance. The old floors creaked beneath my feet as I introduced my family to a few of the black veil sisters, and vice versa.
“How many siblings do you have?” asked one of the black veils, with a cheerful smile.
“One brother and three sisters.” Without thinking, I added, “Yeah, since my parents have plenty of daughters, they could spare one for the convent.”
No one laughed at my silly joke. Instead, my mom looked surprised, then hurt.
Mary, what were you thinking?
I wished I could melt right into the wooden floor. That had obviously been exactly the wrong thing to say.
Even worse, I knew I was only half-joking. Ever since August, I’d felt so guilty about leaving my family to enter the convent. I believed I was doing God’s will, but that didn’t make it any easier. I felt like my choice was hurting the Moses family.
In order to ease my conscience, I’d tell myself, It’s okay. My parents have plenty of other children. They’ll be okay without me.
What Is It?
I spent the rest of that visit day feeling awkward and embarrassed. I still talked and spent time together with my family, like the days before. But I felt as if I’d betrayed them.
That evening and night, I brought my silly words and my mother’s hurt reaction to the Lord.
First, I admitted that my half-hearted attempt to comfort myself had been wrong. My parents in no way thought of me as the “spare” child. They’d just driven 600 miles south in the dead of winter to see me. Every morning during their visit, they told me they’d been so excited all evening and night to see me again. There was nothing "spare"-sounding about that.
But my mother’s reaction haunted me most. She’d looked so surprised I would say something like that, and so hurt that I didn’t seem to understand how much she cared. Disappointed in me.
I understand nothing, I thought. About how much it cost my parents to let me enter the convent.
In my notebook, I wrote:
On my stupid words today…thank you for showing me how much my family loves me.
I frowned as I continued journaling. There was something I was missing in all of this. Something obvious that I just wasn’t getting. It was the thing that kept the Sisters from laughing at my joke, and that drew out the surprise on my mother’s face.
What is it?
I tucked myself in for the night, clutched my Rosary close to my heart. The profound silence draped around me like a soothing blanket. Like a blank canvas for my probing thoughts.
What is it I’m missing?
On the last visiting day, my family and I took a final walk around the Motherhouse. My dad encouraged me to keep “Trusting in the Lord Jesus at all times.” My sisters urged me to keep writing them letters. My mom asked how she could help me with my fantasy novel.
“I can help edit it, so we can self-publish it for you,” she offered. “Your sister wants to help, too.”
“I’ll ask Sr. Anna,” I told her, feeling nervous and a little wistful. I missed my late-night writing sessions, and the beloved characters I’d created over years of drafting, re-writing, editing. Will Owain and Philia Pendragon and Dylan Thomas Lee. “I’m just not sure how involved Sister wants me to be in the process.”
“Well, write it in your letter to me,” she requested.
I gave her a big hug, like an apology for my wayward comment about spare daughters.
“Of course, Mom.”
We headed back to the family's blue Econoline van. Good ol’ Wedge.
“I’ll be home again soon. For the postulant home visit.” I hugged my youngest sister extra tight. “May isn’t so far away.”
It wasn’t, but it felt long.
“Have a safe drive, Mom and Dad! I’ll be praying for you!”
I waved until the blue van disappeared behind the red brick of the Motherhouse. Then I stuffed my numb fingers back into my winter coat, and headed back into the novitiate.
Five more months until we see each other again.
Thank you so much for reading! Join me next week to hear my adventures as a prayer warrior in training!
About the Author:
Mary Rose Kreger lives in the metro Detroit area with her family, where she writes fantasy for teens, and blogs about her spiritual journey: before, during, and after the convent. Mary also shares faith and fantasy quotes on her Instagram account,@faithandfantasy1.