Walking down the corridor at the old Convent you were greeted by texts, painted by one of our early Sisters, and later re-painted by one of our Oblates. The rooms all had the names of virtues over the doors; I think one of the Novitiate doors had ‘Hiddeness’, while a spare sitting room was called ‘Joy’. The room the television was in had ‘Quietness’ over the door, which felt like a bit of a misnomer until you realised that, previous to the TV arriving, it had been kept as a room for people to go and write letters in, so quiet. I suspect it may originally have been a sitting room for the Lay Sisters, until the distinction was ended in the 1940s, but I have no proof of that. Further along there is a room named Thankfulness. To call it a room is a bit of an exaggeration; it was more like a walk-in cupboard, where old cards, and wool etc were kept for people to rifle through in need. Latterly, it was also where two of the cats, Gypsy and Tom, slept at night.
Why Thankfulness? I have no idea, unless Sisters were grateful for finding the exact bit of wool they needed. Of course, this may not have been the original purpose of the room, but I can’t imagine it being anything other than a storeroom of some sort. But the designation as ‘Thankfulness’ is one we do well to remember in general. Earlier in the year, when we were only allowed one bit of daily exercise a day, I found myself looking around, noting one thing that I could write down. So there were the crocus buds peeping shyly though the snow, and later crocuses out in their full glory; the peace as I found and explored a grassy area in Norwich; the sight of an early clump of mini daffodils; rain drops hanging off the branches of the wisteria, which at that point was showing no signs of the glory to come; swans flying overhead; birds I saw perching near me. Later I noted signs of our opening up – when worship began, or the city became busier, having the Covid vaccination or meeting someone. Often, as I look through these notes, I can remember the exact moment, sometimes moments which would have been lost to memory, but which now bring joy again.
Now we are allowed out more, I try to pause each evening and think of just one thing, one moment, that I can note and be grateful: a blackbird washing in a puddle; the wisteria, now fully purple; the peace in the older parts of a graveyard. Just moments of gratitude during the day. I find myself noticing more around me, even if it’s not that I note down: the bush growing on top of a wall, the leaves now fully out that had previously been only buds. There is an amazing amount of God’s world around us, if we can but take the time to notice, to pause, to be grateful.