A Weekend at the Convent

Have you ever spent a weekend with some nuns? 

I never had either.  Until our daughter decided to become one.

This past weekend, I had my second visit with the Salesian sisters, and I'm learning so much.

1.  This particular order - the Salesians - are called "sisters," not "nuns."  Nuns are cloistered, sisters are not.   Now we know.

2.  There are levels of training and formation: first you are an aspirant (meaning to aspire to), then you are a novice (meaning new or beginner.)  Our daughter is a novice. 

3.  The Salesian Sisters I've come to know are not like any nuns sisters I've ever met.  They have facebook accounts; they watch "The Middle"; they offer Cocoa Puffs for breakfast; they wear sneakers. 

And they don't wield rulers.  I didn't see a ruler the entire weekend.  Not even in the craft box I worked from to make some greeting cards.   

4.  These sisters have more energy than I do.  (Their mission is education and spiritual development of youth.)  Some are younger than me, some are older than me, but they're all up at the crack of dawn praying and receiving divine strength and guidance for their day.

While I was there, I rolled out of bed between eight and nine a.m.   I felt like a slug in comparison.

5.  Hospitality is one of their gifts.  These sisters are the most welcoming, care-taking, kind-hearted women.  While I was there with my sister and a friend, we had simple, but the most lovely accommodations.

Small things like hand-made welcome signs and fancy towel pockets...

And bigger things like a stone patio with a beautiful view.

The gray figure is our daughter.

And a wonderfully organized (the spices are alphabetized, I kid you not), industrial kitchen that we got to bake in.

They even had a KitchenAid mixer.  I was in Betty Crocker heaven. 

This baby has seen some dough.  Here, it's humming away on sugar cookies.

Which, upon completion, looked like this...

Sweet, sweet fun. 

6.  Where we visited, the Salesians have two communities - the retreat center/residency...

...and Camp Auxilium, the summer youth camp for which the sisters are known.

At the time of our visit, both areas were lush and green with blooming trees and friendly creatures.

Like butterflies and cows and bears (oh, my...)

I swear, this butterfly stopped and posed for me.

As did this baby cow, who was hanging out with his relatives in a nearby pasture.  His momma, on the right, eyeballed me suspiciously. 

7.  The black bear (and maybe his family) is still around.

The black blob in the center of this fuzzy photo is the local bear. (I don't have a telephoto lens, so, in editing, I zoomed in until the bear no longer resembled an ant.)  He lives peaceably with the sisters, coming close to the homestead only when looking for food in the Dumpster.

We baited him with an apple, to get a picture.  After a few hours, he appeared.

When he was close enough to photograph, I freaked out and ran into the closest doorway.   He's just so big.   And well...a bear.  

On my last visit, I caught a closer glimpse.  He looked like this...

8.  I think I'll just be happy with this picture.

More to come...


terri said...

A wonderful retreat with some wonderful people, especially Sara!

Gnomie said...

A beautiful place for beautiful people

Anonymous said...

I recognize the cookies. I hope the bear didn't get any.