Over several posts, I will post some of the life at the Sheffield Carmel in Kirk Edge in the UK where, please God, I will be going soon. These posts come from the sisters themselves told to me during my visit to them and from a few women I knew over the past few years who entered this Carmel and stayed for various length of times and who left finding either they had no vocation to Carmel or had a vocation elsewhere.
I will start the posts that come from my experience with a “My Story or Visit” or some such statement to signify what is mine. After saying this, I will start something now to get going. I will edit any personal things, names, etc. to protect my privacy, the previous women who were there and the sisters themselves.
From My Visit:
I knew the moment I was in the driveway still in the taxi that I found my home, my Carmel! Just the SIGHT of the monastery! Then this knowledge grew in leaps and bounds when I met Mother in the parlor, entered their incredibly beautiful chapel, when I talked with all the sisters – except one sister who was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get up the stairs to the parlor. This is such a true, authentic and traditional Carmel – I expected St. Teresa of Avila to come to the parlor!
When Mother Mary first came to the parlor, she knelt down on the floor, sitting on her heels – she is over 80 yrs old! They have no chairs in the parlor, just a prayer stool or one of those little wooden stools Carmels have with the slot in the top to carry it. Younger or healthy nuns with good knees kneel/sit on the floor and the older or unhealthy knees can sit on the low stools.
The parlors have double grilles and also in the chapel. They have 3 parlors. The biggest is the St. Joseph parlor (picture below), the St. Teresa of Avila parlor (I saw one sister in here once when family came to see another sister in the St. Joseph parlor – and I forgot to take a picture of this parlor! Then there is a third smaller parlor window in a small room that discerners ate their meals in (more on this and a picture too in a later post). These three parlors have thick wooden doors closing them off on their side.
(above, St. Joseph’s parlor, 2nd floor)
(public chapel, nun’s choir grille to the left side wall)
(Our Lady’s altar – which is located to the right side of the main altar – I spent much time on their prieu dieu in front of Our Lady!)
The silence on the grounds, parts of the monastery I could be in and especially the chapel was incredible! As they are on the edge of the moors and inside the national park/reserve area, there can never be any construction to build anything near them. Even outside there was no noise. There was an occasional car sound driving by – barely audible that I heard at the Lodge where I stayed that is right near the road but even then, the silence and beauty of the surrounding land was breath taking!
(the Lodge from near the monastery)
The Lodge is a building that has 3 flats (apartments to us in the US). One flat is a older couple who act as Externs and caretakers to the nuns for a reduced rental rate. The husband created and maintained their website and did other chores while the wife did the shopping, brought the sisters to doctor’s appointments, picked up and brought discerners like myself to/from the train station we’d come in on from the nearby airport. Another flat was rented to another couple and the third flat was saved for discerners to stay in (like me), visiting priests and for members of a sister’s family who came from far away. From the window of this kitchen flat I could see the monastery chapel and part of the monastery (see the header picture at the top of my blog). It was so beautiful during the day and especially at night when most nights there would be one of the windows lit with light. I always wondered what room that window opened into. Or was it a hallway?