Community living

A few days ago, I wrote an article talking about my recent decision to spend a year living with a community of nuns. Now I’m finally here at the Order of the Holy Paraclete, I wanted to jot down my initial thoughts.

I arrived yesterday morning after a pleasant drive across the North York Moors from York to Whitby. I was greeted by friendly faces and felt reminded that nuns are not scary, but lovely. The sisters who greeted me and showed me to my room couldn’t do enough to make me feel at home and to reassure my concerned parents that they would be taking good care of me for the next 12 months.

The past 24 hours have been quite strange. After leading a relatively busy life, I suddenly find myself with a lot of spare time. Mondays and Tuesdays are my days off, and Tuesday is a corporate space day, meaning the whole community gets a day off. I spent most of yesterday (Monday) unpacking, settling in, eating food and drinking tea, all the while feeling slightly nervous in case I did or said something wrong (not that I should worry about this – the sisters are incredibly gentle and don’t seem prone to harsh tellings-off).

This morning, thanks to wisdom tooth pain, I woke up at 6am. By 9am, I was out the house to go for a walk along the West Cliff of Whitby. The weather was bleak, but beautiful; despite being no more than half a mile away, I could barely see Sandsend for the mist. I then went to the Abbey ruins, which were stunning as ever, especially so when it rained and made everything look windswept and truly gothic in every sense of the word.

One thing I’ve found so far is that I have an awful lot of spare time. I seem to suddenly have time for all the little things I usually don’t have any time for at all. I’ve been reading, knitting, playing the ukulele…my work for the community starts tomorrow, and I imagine I’ll have less spare time then, but I’m certainly enjoying it while it lasts. I finally have time to sit down, stop stressing, and be still in the presence of God.

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