I wanted to be a nun like the nuns I could not see at the cloistered Carmelite monastery near where I grew up. Every October my grandmother took me there to participate in the “Shower of Roses.” The Carmelite monastery was named in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux, otherwise known as “The Little Flower,” who had promised on her deathbed to spend her heaven doing good on Earth, and to let fall a shower of roses, in the form of graces, for the people who had asked her to ask God for help.
My grandmother had also loved St. Francis of Assisi, and I discovered that his friend and soulmate St. Clare had founded an order of nuns. In fact, she is one of the first women in the Christian tradition to have written a monastic Rule for nuns. Slowly but surely, through the usual series of coincidences, I found myself visiting a monastery of these nuns, today known as “Poor Clares,” in a village in the English countryside.
Eventually, I lived with the Poor Clares. I too was drawn to this life of love of God, and they allowed me to come and live it with them.
The monastery was English viewed through a haze of lupine and greenery, but it felt like where St. Clare had lived, the monastery of San Damiano, down the hill and outside the gates of Assisi, in Umbria. How could it feel that way?