This March evening finds me tucked neatly away on the Lost Isle of Lenore, or more specifically within the stone walls of the Abbey in Gilead, Lenore. I have retreated here, more than a little horrified by the advances I made toward Jack at Violetta’s party. I am here either to seek penance for my actions or lick my wounds. I am not sure. I do know one thing with the utmost certainty. I must put an end to my engagement to stodgy old Charles. Now, this does not mean that I intend to pursue a relationship with Jack. Perish the thought! Rather, I should prefer to be alone than spend my life with a dreadful bore such as Charles. He is still missing, and of course I am distraught, but this time apart has made obvious to me just how little I need and miss him in his absence.
I have spent the past few days observing the monastic order as they attend to their daily routines. It would seem that idleness is not tolerated among these faithful Brides of Christ. Their days are spent at a variety of tasks – from choir practice to making the church vestments to be worn by the priests during Mass. I have paid many a visit to the work room where industrious nuns make the surplices – decorative tunics which are worn over the priests’ cassocks. I watch intently as some of the more experienced needleworkers fashion the heavily embroidered chasubles which are worn only for the celebration of the Eucharist. The garments here are of a surprisingly modern style. The chasuble is less of an oval piece of cloth and resembles instead, a broad scapular, the front cut away as to allow the priest to clasp his hands in prayer. The decorations, namely crosses in a heavy golden thread, which adorn the backs of these stiff brocade vestements are quite complex and the nuns who sew them possess a level of skill and dexterity that I have not witnessed before.
When not at work, these faithful women spend many an hour knelt before the Most Blessed Sacrament in Perpetual Adoration. At least two people are rostered to kneel before the unconsecrated bread and wine so that He is never left alone. Here, the Sacrament is exposed – laid out beneath a white host and attended to by the endless procession of nuns. I am in awe of their dedication to their tasks and find myself wondering if I shall ever achieve such devotion in both my practical and spiritual lives.
For now, though, I am content to dwell amongst those who sit in adoration of the Lord, to absorb this cloistered life and allow the tranquility to envelop me.