Revelations at a Convent

by Kristine Mietzner 

 

When I walked through the tall wooden doors of the Santa Sabina Center, thirty minutes north of San Francisco, I hoped for rest and revelations about what was next in my life. The former convent is tucked away in San Rafael among oaks and eucalyptus, and it is a place for quiet, contemplation, and meditation. Exactly what I needed.


On that rainy May weekend, I sought a break from navigating the litigious end of a long marriage. I was a sailor caught in a storm of emotions, seeking a safe harbor. No talking, just a place to take my tired self to bind my wounds, shed disappointments, and release anger. 

Just as I was falling into bed in a room that once housed Dominican novitiates, my cell phone rang. Why was I getting a call at 9:30 p.m. from the father of my children? I jumped to the fear that my son or daughter might be hurt, so I answered the phone. Big mistake. 

The kids were okay but he, an attorney, wanted to talk about our unsettled property issues. I didn’t. I referred him to my attorney. Before we hung up, I said, “Don’t call me again this weekend.” Sighing, I turned off the phone. 

Then I berated myself. How foolish could I be? I knew better than to take a call from my ex-husband while on a spiritual retreat. 

I stopped myself from a bitter downward spiral by recalling that the marriage had had its good years. We were blessed with two incredible children. I found some compassion for myself. It was okay that I answered the phone and besides, I had ended the call quickly.

Opening the window, I inhaled the eucalyptus-scented air, listened to the soft, steady rainfall whispering in the night, and reflected on how far I’d travelled in my post-marriage years. 

Right from the beginning of the unraveling of my marriage, I knew that forgiveness would unlock the door to my new life, but finding the key proved challenging. How could I forgive someone I perceived as trying to take advantage of me?

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