My heart shrinks into a knot.
I am leaving the convent.
I sit alone in the office of Mother Superior. She has just walked out to attend to a visitor. We have been going over the small procedures that have to be taken care of before I leave. The process is simple. After all, I am just a postulant. Postulants leaving are a common thing in a convent.
The last rays of sunlight fall on the scattered pieces of paper over the desk.
The convent, the sisters, my plans: They all walked out of my life with Mother Superior, and I remain by myself, in the simple office, with the icon.
It rests on the wall behind Mother’s desk, and I look on it sadly.
It is a reproduction of the icon painted by Andrei Rublev. It recounts the hospitality of Abraham toward three strangers who turned out to be angels. The angels sit around a table, facing me. It is called the Old Testament Trinity because the three angels symbolize the three persons of the Trinity.
It is my God.
A golden image of my God.
I sigh. Since childhood, the convent had been my dream; the habit, my goal. Just as my little friends dreamed of a Prince Charming, I dreamed of my final profession. Where did I get that dream from? I thought that it was from God. I guess not.
The monotony was what got me. The schedule, the bells had slowly choked me. A horizon where I could predict exactly what I would be doing at 3 p.m. for the rest of my life terrified me. I blamed the convent, religious life, the whole concept of it, but then I noticed the other postulants. They were beaming. They talked about the freedom they experienced. It was not only talk. I saw them increase in charity and patience day by day. It was real. Their freedom was real. But not for me.
I was sincere. But sincerity is not enough. There had to be a call and, to my surprise, I did not have it. Mother Superior had consoled me and encouraged me, but in the end, she had agreed. It was time to leave.
It had been my goal. My dream. The place I belonged. But I was wrong all the time…
I know it will be okay. I know there is a place somewhere for me. I was so sure of where my home was, but now I’m left alone. The family I was sure I belonged to turned out to be for someone else.
I breathe in, but there doesn’t seem to be enough air in the room.
The three angels look at me from their sea of gold. One of the angels is pointing at the table. The food is served. “Where?” my soul whispers. And suddenly grace arrives, like a wave touching the shore.
There is a free spot around His table.
A free spot… a place.
“With Me,” He answers.
And I smile.
Alaide Mata is a 2006 Texas Tech graduate. She has traveled around America and Europe as a pilgrim and is planning a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe basilica. You can view her artwork and writings at http://catholicparables.blogspot.com.