There are often moments I feel I've just stepped out of a time machine and can't believe I've arrived here - as if my 12-year-old self is looking at a strange future self. With two weeks before I enter the convent, there have been several of these "how did I get here?" moments. This is my attempt to answer that question for the sake of that 12-year-old and perhaps any friends who are wondering the same thing.

I saw religious sisters for the first time at a youth retreat and remember thinking what a great service they gave with their lives. I had a gravitational attraction to them along with a sinking feeling of inevitability. The thought was pushed out of my mind or at least relegated to a far corner until junior year of high school when I started commuting to classes at the community college. The church was on the way, the side door was always open, and I made a habit of stopping in to visit the Real Presence. Here is where my desire for God grew, imperceptibly, in quiet stillness before the Eucharist. The universe was posed like a mad, giant, swirling question, but that little tabernacle held the answer.

How can I describe time spent with God? Sometimes I'd just float in my amazement, too big to fit in my head, of his plan for creating and saving humanity out of love - marvel at how all the pieces fit together so unexpectedly yet so naturally. Sometimes I'd read the Scripture and laugh at an inside joke between us or realize clearly something I always vaguely knew. I'd bring the smallest irritations to have them blown open as grand opportunities to further the kingdom. And there's nothing like the realizations of deeply rooted personal sinfulness followed by immediate outpourings of mercy. Sometimes I'd sit in boredom, head bowed from fatigue more than reverence. But that time spent with God fixed me on him, placed the primacy of his kingdom on my heart, and made me fall in love with him.

Someone in love doesn't care where they go or what they do so long as their lover is there. They have a boldness to go on adventures they might never attempt otherwise. Those instances where God's love gave me courage to say something controversial, do something difficult or uncomfortable, step out on a limb for his and others' sake have been the most joyful, exhilarating moments of my life. A religious sister finds strength in the chapel every morning to go out on the limb of the mission field, only to return to the sturdy trunk of the Real Presence in the evening. The Eucharist is truly my home and that's why I have such peace going to the convent.

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