Guardian contributor Joanna Moorhead has a terrific piece about her Carmelite nun aunt.
I was studying journalism in Cardiff, not far from the convent and when we were asked to do an in-depth feature about a way of life that was difficult to penetrate, I didn’t hesitate. I asked the nuns if I could stay inside the community for a week, in order to write about it. To my surprise (I have often wondered whether they thought I might have had a vocation myself and this was my way of trying it out) they agreed.
Sharing their life was an extraordinary experience; my strongest memories are of a total lack of creature comforts – bare wooden floors, my spartan cell with just a bed, desk and chair – and of a silent world governed by bells and constant trips in and out of the chapel. But there was a peace there like no peace I’ve ever experienced, and when I’m up against it I sometimes remember what it was like to kneel in the choir at first light (morning prayer was at 5am) and the ethereal sound of the nuns’ voices as they sang the psalms.