…On Sunday night, I fell victim to another cold and my first case of the dreaded ‘Delhi Belly.’ I also got a cold after the first wedding I attended so I’m certainly experiencing a high correlation between weddings and illness. Needless to say, I’ll be going easier on the food at the next marriage.
Feeling very ill, I slept through most of leap day. However, I woke up about an hour before sunset to the sound of the church vehicle’s distinctive diesel engine and the callings of Sister Pushpa out front. To my complete surprise, not one, not two, not three, but all four sisters left the convent to come visit me and check on my health. They came in, sat down, and ensured that I was taking it easy and doing everything possible to recover quickly. Their combination of motherly love, pious spirit, and Indian hospitality truly made for a curative visit. How many people can say that they had four Carmelite sisters come visit them in a foreign country when they were sick? It certainly lifted my spirits.
Before I fell sick, I had also started a new project to help the sisters. Although very time consuming, the project has given me the chance to meet even more sisters from Haryana and neighboring states. The six Carmelite sisters from the St. Joseph’s Convent School in Sector 5 have now also taken me under their wings.
Sister Jaya Mary is one of the sweetest humans I have ever met. She exudes bubbly optimism and grace and is the ‘Superior’ of the St. Joesph’s Convent. She has a beautiful smile and a myriad of snacks and sweets waiting for me every time I arrive. With short rapid steps, she seems to float briskly around the convent.
Let me give you another example of their unsurpassed hospitality. The other day, I was at the St. Joseph’s Convent, sitting at the head of the dining table in the company of seven nuns, and eating almonds from a dish with three other snack options. Sister Annabelle stood up from her seat down the table, walked over, and rotated the dish so that the almonds were now the closest snack to me. The dish was already so close that it was touching my placemat. However, she didn’t want me to have to fully extend my arm to reach for the farthest item. I couldn’t help but smile in disbelief.
On Sunday, I ate lunch with the sisters and met two more who traveled 5 hours by train just to visit for the day from Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh (don’t worry, I still can’t pronounce it either). No matter where they are from, the sisters insist that I not lift a finger.
All of these sisters are members of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa (CSST). They follow the mission and vision of their foundress, Mother Teresa of St. Rose of St. Lima, in caring for and educating the poor and marginalized. As with all Carmelites, the sisters seek to share the “compassionate love of God” through contemplation and selfless service. They are known throughout the world for the power of their prayer. Their primary goal is not to spread the word of God so much as to spread his love. Sister Pushpa has told me many stories of people questioning her motives. Her answer is always, “My goal is not to make humans Catholic, but to make humans better human beings.”
As you can see, we are getting along like peas and carrots. I have the distinct feeling that these are friendships that will last for decades no matter where the sisters are posted in the world.
These sisters are truly fulfilling what they have vowed and set out to accomplish. I cannot imagine a more loyal or devoted group of people to care for the young treasures we are sending to them. You know that feeling when everything just seems to be falling into place perfectly? I’m feeling it.