“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. As a lily among brambles, so is my love among maidens.” ~ Song of Solomon 2:1-2
This past June I was blessed to be present at my sister’s clothing as a Carmelite novice, and even more blessed a week later to be able to have a family visit day and a few minutes alone with her. I can’t post a picture of her (part of the seal of the cloister is dying to the world and remaining hidden in Christ), but imagine a more or less five foot girl in the complete brown habit with the white novice veil. Very cute, people commented, on such a tiny person.
However, there is also something very breathtaking, powerful, and sacred about it. Somehow it reminds me very much of St. Therese and St. Teresa of the Andes and St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. All of them were so young and fresh and innocent—beautiful brides of Christ. Yet each of them carried a profound wisdom and a lifelong sacrifice of prayer and penance to bring grace to the world.
Enveloped in a solitude very foreign to the modern culture, cloistered communities around the world continue such a tradition to this day. Thus, this picture of a white rose that I took on the walk to class a couple weeks back also reminds me very much of my sister. Just like the fresh white rose in the middle of a dusty city, so the prayers and life commitment of these cloistered women are a breath of fresh air in our world. We will never know how much their prayers and sacrifices contribute to the good in the world until heaven, but I can confidently say that from the peace and joy I have experienced at such monasteries—it is so much more than we think. We owe them a great amount. Perhaps that is why the people who live near such monasteries are eager to support them with the fruit of the work of their hands. These brides of Christ support us with the fruit of their souls.