We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight.
Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness
in the ruthless furnace of this world. Jack Gilbert
The bell rang for Vespers. Delaying, I waited for the community room to clear as the other novices promptly put away their projects and quietly filed out to the chapel. A plain brown paper bag held whatever clothing was to replace the now-familiar comfort of the black habit. My parents waited in the car at the back steps and somewhat reluctlantly welcomed me back home. Back then, of course, there were no farewells allowed, no final explanations, and no forwarding address to leave. The only evidence was the empty place at choir and at the evening meal in the refectory.

That was 44 years ago and my life can be described as rich and fulfilling. About 15 years ago, I braved a return visit to St. Benedict's and a class reunion for all those who were able to attend out of the original 36... whether or not we had stayed. So many changes had taken place both in the convent and in me, but a reconnection occurred that continues to the present. The lives of my Benedictine sisters are an inspiration to me. Now email allows us to stay in touch anywhere, anytime. It's amazing how much we all still love each other.

Our gatherings always felt the absence of Gerry, whose path took her to Brazil as a missionary, and later with husband and soul-mate, Luis, to their school in Oaxaca. This past week, a long Thanksgiving weekend in the States presented an opportunity for us to meet in San Antonio, where we lunched, talked, laughed and caught up for over four hours. Her beautiful face and radiant smile remain exactly the same, as the photos prove. It's so surprising and heart-warming to share diverse lives and observations, and after all these years find that we still love each other so very much!
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Forever Friends
Words may define us, but it's love that connects us.
Bee Season
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I am persuaded
that every time
a man smiles
but much more
so when he laughs
it adds something to this fragment of life.
Laurence Sterne
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