At last, I’m in my real home, I prayed, adjusting the weight of my knees upon the wooden kneeler in the 1878 Gothic Revival chapel of the community of nuns I’d chosen to enter. From the choir loft wafted ethereal strains that deepened my consolation and assured me of having made the right decision.

But it had not always been that way. Only the nuns’ scholarly teaching, their contemplative attitude, their joy in living spoke of the depths of their vowed commitment, its observance hidden behind cloister doors. Only after entering religious formation in the noviceship would I know how they lived. Clues from the trousseau list also repulsed me: for instance, using Birdseye towels instead of Kotex, man-sized handkerchiefs, galoshes, etc.

With the entrance day, September 7, 1957, fast approaching, terror of the unknown assailed me; it was only assuaged by binging, my empty stomach empowering me with a sense of control, until the next emptying. But all the arrangements had been made, even the pasteboard steamer trunk shipped to Albany, New York, my destination. I had to go rather than disappoint many. So, tearfully, I went. The initial wrench numbed me.

Since then, there have been other unknowns, but not the existential terror of that one. Another unknown, the death of my body, looms ahead, perceived, now, as the great adventure to another “home.” Most everyone that I have known are already there.

I wait and pray, in gratitude.