Part 19: Nashville Dominicans
Originally Published: Tuesday October 15th, 2013
It is sunday evening in a hotel room in Indianapolis and I have driven four and a half hours to make my way to Alma, Michigan. I spent the weekend in Nashville with the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia on retreat. It was a huge retreat with about 60 of us all up, all of us discerning something.
It was a glimpse into the life of these sisters, which is one that brings the Medieval monasticism into the 21st Century. Arriving on Friday afternoon, we began with some introductory stuff and a talk by Fr Kirby on Pope Francis and Poverty in Spirit. Then we joined the sisters for evening prayer which is in english, but chanted to an 800 year old tune. I had visions of a slender, tapering gothic church and medieval habits. The last of the sun streaming through the stained glass windows and candles to light the dark corners.
We kept the sister’s routine of prayer, mass, mealtimes, silence, talks and recreation, met some lovely girls from all over the US and Canada and spent a lot of time praying and trying to be quiet. Honestly, I was so ready for this retreat but I just felt ill at ease. The sisters are beautiful, joyful and amazing women but I didn’t feel quite at home.
As I was leaving on Sunday afternoon, it hit me why I was feeling a bit strange. This is the longest time I have been without any significant masculine presence. Ever. Seriously, I have never been without my guy friends or brothers or uncles, or my dad or my grandfathers being around. I felt a bit coarse and unrefined being around the sisters.