On August 24, 2007, I closed the door of my own home in England for the last time and journeyed further into a different life. I won't say it didn't feel momentous, because it did, but I also had a sense that it couldn't possibly be me who was doing this.
The time between becoming an affiliate and entering was very graced; I didn't realize how much at the time. I felt so at one with God that I floated through selling my house, disposing of my possessions, saying "goodbye" to people. [This is an aside, but I want to dispel here a myth that monasteries are out to take all your money instantly. I chose to sell my house; the monastery took no part in that decision. As a postulant, novice and in first profession, a woman does not use her own resources, learns by degrees to live depending entirely on the monastery; she does not relinquish ownership of her assets until making perpetual profession.]
Back to the story: reality hit as I sat on the train taking me to London where I would catch my flight to the USA. I cried throughout the four-hour journey. I cried throughout the night in a lonely hotel room, and all the way on the plane from London to Minneapolis. However, I can't say that at any point I nearly changed my mind and turned back. I rested somewhere deep inside on the sense that God was leading me along this path and, although I wasn't enjoying it very much at present, it was still the right direction. That sense of rightness and peace permeated the first two months at Saint Benedict's, which were spent experiencing some extreme pangs of homesickness as I came to terms with the fact that I wasn't visiting here anymore. I wasn't visiting and then going home because this was home now.
My initial days at the monastey were, however, a very positive experience of community life. When I arrived from the airport, I was met by a sister who has consistently been a rock of support, greeted with great joy and love by the sisters with whom I would live for the next two years, and supported through the next two months with much care and sensitivity to how I was feeling. I was sad, but I wasn't unhappy, and I never felt alone.