And so it was leaving the convent on Saturday morning, shedding the silence and the slowness to be thrust into the rough and tumble of family life. As I sorted through my things in preparation for coming home, I felt so deeply that I just wanted to stay on and on in this place of peace.
A family Christmas was always full of presents. We would wait until after the Queen's Speech, always at 3pm, and then open the piles of gifts under the tree, each opening one present in turn, round and round the group, until every surprise had been revealed and we each had a heap of new things and a muddle of torn gift-wrap. Then my mother would give my brother and me a box each to store our new treasure in and Boxing Day morning, I would take great delight in carefully, one at a time, reviewing the contents of my box, relishing again the excitement of each present. Some could be enjoyed straight away: chocolates or a simple toy. There would always be a book or two, pristine and unread, the promise of quiet hours of reading, new sagas to be enjoyed and characters to be befriended. Perhaps a new gadget, still needing to have batteries put in, the instructions read and the skills to use it learned. Sometimes the gift would be promise, a voucher to be redeemed in the coming months.
And so it is with my experiences of this week. There have been so many moments simply to look over and enjoy, precious gifts from God. But there is also much to process, still to understand or to figure out how to use in my every day life. And promises and vision for what still is to come.
The last week has been incredible. I would liken it to a tropical island holiday with my husband: just the two of us and no distractions, no children, no housekeeping, none of life's daily irritations. A opportunity for romance to flourish amidst lesuirely strolls and intimate conversations. But normal service must be resumed, and truly a good marriage is one that functions well in the midst of life, not separate from it.
And so with God. This week I have met with God and experienced the abundance of his blessings and gifts. Now I face the challenge of bringing this deeper relationship with him into day-to-day life.