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Tales from a Convent Convert


Last weekend a friend and I went to a convent. No, we did not sign up to be Sisters. In spite of the occasional appeal of a place without children or men, I fear the vows of chastity and poverty might prove problematic.

We went for a one-day quiet retreat. The start of the school year is always overwhelming, and I thought it would be nice to have a day to meditate and journal.

The convent was beautiful with lovely gardens and little corners where we could tuck ourselves away. The forecast was for rain so the first thing we did was the labyrinth, a walking meditation through a circular stone maze. It takes just enough concentration that it’s impossible to worry. Worrying is my cardio, so this is quite the feat. In the centre of the labyrinth was a very large stone on which some people had made offerings of pebbles and other tokens. A few people had left one earring behind and someone had left fifty cents. I did not feel compelled to leave anything.

Lunch was totally silent except for the saying of grace. We were dismissed table by table and allowed to serve ourselves from a buffet of Moroccan chicken, vegetables, and rice. Food tastes so much better when you are silent. I suppose silence dials up the other senses, like in those restaurants that have you dine in total darkness. I think silent dining is a practice I should employ from time to time.

The convent also provided ice cream served in giant commercial-sized tubs. I’m not sure if it was the nuns or the theology students who were indulging themselves, but that ice cream disappeared faster than at a 4th of July picnic on the hottest day of the year. We noticed some people ate their ice cream before their meal. Secretly I hoped the nuns were the guilty parties: It would be nice if they had one vice.

In the afternoon my friend and I tried our hand at meditational coloring. Apparently the Sisters have been providing coloring materials as a form of meditation and prayer decades before the current adult coloring craze. I worked on coloring my way through a complicated maze in the shape of a Celtic cross, and it was wonderfully restorative.

We finished the day by sharing our experience with the other participants.

Everybody there was looking to be healed, and we all experienced healing.

The one thing my friend and I noticed was how beautiful everyone looked. Being at peace is attractive. The other thing is how quickly the time went. I’d been worried a full day might be excessive, but the day flew by.

Many convents offers retreats like this one for a very reasonable price. If you’re feeling tired and burned out, I urge you to take Shakespeare’s advice and “get thee to a nunnery” posthaste.

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With an MBA in Finance, JEN LAWRENCE worked in investment banking; was Executive Director of a Children’s Museum and is a pioneer mommy blogger. Jen writes and speaks about women in business, critical thinking, strategic planning and is the author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team. When your world’s been blown apart, Jen Lawrence can help you pull yourself together, and pinpoint those next steps that will help you find your new normal. She can also be found at

5 thoughts on “Tales from a Convent Convert”

  1. Jen – I am going to borrow your line “worrying is my cardio”. Unfortunately, that is so me!

    I am a life long Catholic and never heard about these retreats. It sounds like a great get away – somewhere I’d love to be near election day. No telemarketers calling, no politicians calling – just peace and quiet!

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Jen, this is a great reminder that we must have quiet and serenity occasionally to refresh our souls. What a blessing it must be to live simply, with no noise from the media, no stress over work and no comparisons! We could create something similar for ourselves, if we just had the courage to do it! And I’m with you and Elaine…unplugging on election day sounds divine!

  3. What a wonderful way to spend a day… good for you!
    Funny, I was “threatened” with nunneries as a teen, and now they seem like the perfect place to go.
    Perfect line from Shakespeare!

  4. This sounds divine, Jen! I just had four days hiking alone and I couldn’t get Internet connection on my phone and barely any service for calls/texts – it was heavenly! I do love the online world but there’s nothing quite like getting away from everything too. Esther xx

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