November 19, 2012

Thirty-five years ago today, my little self joined this big world.  I'm so not the type to broadcast my birthday, but I'm telling you today for a specific reason.  Because I got one of THE best birthday presents this year.  No, it wasn't the Cuisanart Tea-Making Kettle (which I absolutely love, so much so that I look forward to my next cup of tea even when I'm in the middle of one) and no it wasn't the jar of homemade Cherry Dill Pickles bought from the bake sale yesterday, or even the lovely dinner and exciting movie we took in last night.  I'll tell you what it was - but first, a bit of history.

I don't think I've ever told the story of how I got engaged to My Mr. Darcy.  Eight and a half years ago, my boyfriend and I took an early morning trip out to one of our favourite places, the Carmelite Monastery near my hometown.  After mass, he lead me out to the statue of St. Joseph in front of the Church and proposed, on his knees, in the gravel.  Clearly, I said yes.  The extern nun, Sister Marguerite was the first to know about our engagement and promised the prayers of Carmel for us.  We were grateful, but as there was so much to think about, I didn't ponder it much past that.

Within our first year of marriage, we found ourselves back at Carmel helping out for one of their feast days - setting up chairs, running around for the sisters, etc. when Mother Celeste approached us and asked if we could take two of her sisters to the hospital.  One of the nuns had been stung by a bee and was started to swell up as she was very allergic to them.  We were thrilled.  Ok, not thrilled that one could be in a life-threatening situation, but that we were the privileged ones to take them to the hospital.  Cloistered nuns, well, they're just downright GORGEOUS.  Inside, outside, upside down, however you slice it.  We chatted with them all the way there wanting to absorb as much holiness from them as humanly possible, dropped them off and went on our merry way again.

We had been communicating through the years with the nuns, asking for prayers for children and for different needs, and we often would forget that these sisters are storming heaven for us - but also that they know our life story.  Visiting every now and again, I was reminded that they know us by name, but not necessarily by face.  One day, I was there to pick up some spiritual bouquets we'd ordered, the sister spoke kindly to me, but it wasn't until I told her my name that she said with excitedly, "Oh goodness, YOU'RE Sarah G*?  You got engaged here, didn't you?  I'm praying for you!"  

Fast forward seven or so years to this past Saturday - two days before my 35th birthday.  I was on an obligatory full-day trip to Madonna House with the student life team leaders, like we do every year.  A very familiar-looking lady stopped me for a moment.  "You're Sarah G* - I know who you are!"  Now, I realize that this statement can mean a lot of things - my face is on the school's website, we've been featured in the newsletter, and I write for a few different blogs/publications - so I didn't know what to say.

"I'm from the Carmelite Monastery in St. Agatha - you know, where you got engaged.  You took me to the hospital once when I was stung by a bee.  I don't have pictures of my family in my cell, but I have you and your husband's picture and I have been praying so very much for you these last couple of years.  I LOVE you so much."

I'm tearing up just remembering it all.  She proceeded to tell me how proud she was of me, how happy she had been when Mother had told them that we'd accepted the job at OLSWA, and that she was still praying for us to have children.  It was truly one of those gob-smacking moments  in which all a lady can do is shed a few tears of gratitude and thanksgiving for such a beautiful and unexpected gift.  To be loved and suffered with all these years touches my very soul - we truly are The Body of Christ, all of us, together.  This moment was the Lord's handiwork - a gift from His Heart to mine.  I am profoundly grateful.


  1. Very beautiful, Miss Sarah. How wonderful to know that those holy women are praying for you, carrying you in their hearts. God bless the Carmelites!

  2. That is so beautiful! Also, Happy Birthday!
    God bless,

  3. How wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing it! And happy birthday!

  4. I HAVE to add a PS to the comment I just left. I thought it pretty delightful that the captcha word I got for this post was "beegard."

  5. Thanks all! It was a good day - and 35 feels great.

  6. What a great story!! and I agree, an awesome b-day gift :)



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