Making a lifetime commitment to the monastic life isn’t a decision that comes overnight. In fact, a person who chooses to join a monastery has to complete a years-long process. It takes time to deepen one’s relationship with God, learn the new lifestyle that contrasts drastically with secular existence, and discern the direction God has for one’s life.
I first came to Amigas del Señor Monastery as a Sojourner in 2006, with the plan to have a year-long immersion experience in monastic life and Honduran culture. I wanted to spend an extended period of time in a Latin American country and to deepen my spiritual life. At the end of that year, I felt I was just getting started, so I made another year-long commitment.
I really enjoy this simple life, with our rustic wooden house on a hilltop overlooking the Caribbean. The daily physical work of cutting firewood, scrubbing laundry by hand, and cooking over a traditional stove is invigorating. Moreover, I feel close to God during our three-times-a-day prayers in the midst of God’s creation, surrounded by tall pines and “a thousand shades of green,” as Sister Alegría likes to say. This life is spiritually refreshing for me, and after more than two years here, I became a Postulant, officially beginning the monastic formation program. At my Reception into the Novitiate in May of 2009 I took the name Confianza, which means confidence and trust in Spanish, two things I seek to deepen in myself and in my relationship with God.
At Amigas del Señor, we recognize that a woman can have a temporary monastic call—we do not assume when someone comes to the Monastery for a time that she is planning to be here for life. God may be calling her to have this experience for several years and then move on to another lifestyle. Sister Alegría and I discerned that I certainly had a monastic vocation, but I did not think that I had a lifetime call. In 2010 I made First Profession, renewed for one year in 2011, and for three more years in 2012. After five years as a Professed Sister, I had the option to make Perpetual Profession, but didn’t feel ready. I was still unsure whether this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Was this really where God was calling me? I committed to one more year to look more closely at this question.
A lifetime commitment as a nun means never getting married, never having children, never knowing the joy of familial life. It means that I live as a poor person, never having a chance to seek a well-paying job or buy things just because I want to. It means that all decisions are to be made in community, and that I will always live by the structures and values of our monastic order.
I had worked through these issues over the years, but now it would be definitive. The main concern was that if I was to make Perpetual Profession, it should be with joy and confidence—no doubts, no second guesses, no niggles of uncertainty.
After becoming a Novice, I had gone through a dark time of questioning, which made me realize that I hadn’t fully dealt with my own responses to all that monastic life involves. I didn’t want to make that same mistake again. As my year of discernment came toward its end, I felt I would be comfortable making a five-year temporary profession—then, at age 40, I would face the question again of a lifelong commitment.
In September 2016, we had our annual 8-day retreat, in which we read Julian of Norwich’s book Showings: Revelations of Divine Love. Among many other encouraging thoughts, this 14th-century English mystic wrote, “Reluctance and deliberate choice are in mutual opposition.” I meditated on this as I imagined making Perpetual Profession. A sense of joy and happiness came over me, and I couldn’t remember any of the doubts or concerns that had been holding me back. That immense joy stayed with me for several days—I just kept smiling—and when I had my clearness committee a few weeks later, I felt ready to make a lifetime commitment.
Over two years later, I don’t regret it. I am content knowing that I am living the life to which God has called me, and I trust that God will help me through the moments of doubt and difficulty.
Sister Confianza del Señor (Prairie Naoma Cutting) tells her journey in “real time” in the email updates she and Sister Alegría del Señor (Beth Blodgett) occasionally send. They are archived at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amigasdelsenor/. Their stories from 2006 through 2013 have been collected and edited into two books: Amigas del Señor: Methodist Monastery (Quaker Abbey Press, 2010) and Giving Up Something Good for Something Better (Amigas Press/CreateSpace, 2017). Both books are available on Amazon.com.
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