I returned to England in April, 2006, to live out, in my own surroundings, the idea of entering Saint Benedict's Monastery. The plan was that if I still felt the same in the fall, I would return to the monastery for a longer visit, living, praying and working as part of the sisters' community, rather than as part of Studium. For the first six weeks, despite the fact that it was genuinely good to be home, the only thing I wanted to do was get back to Saint Benedict's. I had a deep sense that this was where I needed to be to find the "something more" I'd been looking for. I told very few people what I was considering. This was because I wanted to keep my mind open and not place myself in a position where I had to defend the decision to enter before I had fully made it.
I was also aware that I couldn't simply mark time in England. You may remember that I had given up my job before I came on my second visit to Studium. I had to construct a life I might go on living, which would feed and clothe me. If I didn't do this, I wouldn't be measuring my desire to enter against a real life. I look back now on this phase and am amazed at the grace that flowed. A collection of small jobs seemed to drop down in front of me, which paid my bills, but didn't commit me in ways that would make it difficult to spend three months later in the year living at the monastery.
Well, the result was that I constructed a very agreeable life that enabled to me to live simply, remaining in close contact with my friends and family, while giving me more time for God - just what I'd originally thought I wanted! So, by the time I returned to the monastery in September, 2006, I definitely came with an open mind and would, indeed, have been very glad to discover that I did not have a monastic vocation after all.
I was disappointed. I was so happy here right from the start. The life just seemed to fit. I recall being at Mass one day, about a week after I arrived, wondering if it could really be so easy, and the words, "My yoke is easy and my burden light" floated effortlessly across my mind. The result of the visit was that I started the formal process of requesting to enter, which is quite lengthy, and involved making another visit, for a month, around Easter 2007. It was at this stage that I was accepted as an affiliate, which means that my request to enter the monastery was granted, but that I continued living my regular life, in my own home, for another few months.
Sister Karen Rose, OSB