Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Carmelites in concert

If that excites you, too bad-- it already happened last week. It was the Alhambra Carmelites singing at Santa Teresita. I went and really enjoyed it. Before the concert happened Fox News ran a story on it, and the sisters then added a second concert and both sold out. The reason you see different habits in the video is that the group includes professed sisters, novices, postulants, and nine candidates (candidacy is the year or two before postulancy that this particular congregation requires.) Among the candidates I recognized two girls I'd met two years before, when we were all on the Come and See retreat at the Carmelites' motherhouse to try to figure out if we should join that community. Evidently for some of us the answer was yes. :) I also caught a glimpse of my sister's roommate's sister who's a sister, and yes, I had fun typing that phrase. My favorite musician was the postulant with the big drum solo. She was great. And the girl I happened to sit next to during the concert turned out to be a most interesting person, which just goes to show what high-quality people attend these functions. ;)

In the Fox video you can see Mother Regina Marie. I still remember the talk she gave to all of us two years ago. I'd been expecting something like, "How to Know if You Have a Vocation", but instead she talked about the life of the congregation's founder, and a scene at the deathbed of one of the older nuns, and some other things, and all of it together left me feeling unexpectedly peaceful about not knowing whether I'd be a nun or not, because the more important, deeper thing is to follow God closely no matter what.

The next day at lunch we girls started talking about Mother. "She's fascinating... I like hearing her talk... You get the feeling she understands people... I wish we had more time with her..." Suddenly, as if summoned by our wish, Mother herself appeared and sat down to chat with us. We were all immediately tongue-tied. I vaguely remember blurting out whatever questions I could think of just to keep her at the table.

One really great feature of that retreat was that there was a whole day just to pray. Nothing to go see, nothing to do-- just a couple of very short talks from the chaplain about vocation discernment, and the rest of the time we spent by ourselves, staying in our rooms or wandering the beautiful grounds of the retreat center. That, ironically, was the only time I ever visited a convent and left feeling that I'd had enough time to pray.

Incidentally, that chaplain... I think he must have had experience with how shy girls can be in certain situations. At the end of one talk he asked if there were any questions, and nobody spoke up. But instead of leaving, he just kept staring at the podium, as if distracted, until someone worked up enough courage to ask her question. He answered it, and then there was another period of silence while he focused intently on his own folded hands. Then another girl managed to ask a question, and he answered that, and then he waited some more.... and so on. In the end there were lots of questions, but he wouldn't have heard any of them if he hadn't given us enough time to psych ourselves up to it.

Hm. I have wandered far from the given subject of my post, so I will tie everything together in an impressive circle by saying that I hope the Alhambra Carmelites give another concert soon. There!

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