How to move a monastery 5

Getting farewelled
Ty Mam Duw


Like many contemplatives of our sort, we are essentially invisible!  To ourselves, we are thirteen plus four - all rugged individuals, but to people who come here to ask for prayers, make retreats and attend the Eucharist or the Divine Office, we are faces in the fog beyond the grille.  Visitors may have met Dear Mother (the name we give our leading lady) and will have encountered the team of portresses at the door, but they are unlikely to know us all by name.  It is awkward to say good bye to a nun you have never met. It is like ‘Porgy and Bess’, due for a revival at the English National Opera in November; it is more difficult to get a divorce if you have never been married.

Here in North Wales our Parish is small and our parishioners came at their own request for a farewell mass.  Like a number of local churches they leave a basket at the back labelled ‘Food for the Nuns’ and after the offertory at Mass bring it along on a Sunday morning as a very kind contribution to our invisible upkeep.

They came, chose the hymns they wanted us to play, wept as they read the intercessions and brought their own food to eat.  They gave us the leftovers, as they have done at most parish celebrations.  People are kind; we even have a loving Moslem benefactor who from time to time makes us a very special dinner.

We hope that those we know and the people we have scarcely met, who send us “Don’t Go” cards, may feel equally near in Nottingham and on the net.  After all, if you can phone your family from Mount Everest, no place is very far!