We arrived later than we'd planned, after crawling through traffic. But there were sisters here to greet us as soon as we got out of the car. Each one that greeted us said "Welcome!!" and grabbed our bags and jumped at the chance to show us around or to get us a drink or to answer questions. We laughed as one of the sisters literally wrestled our pastor's bag out of his hands. There was no choice but to give up and be greeted and served and treated like Very Important Guests.
We settled into our cells, Scott and I in adjoining bedrooms with good hard single beds. Several sisters apologized for the single bed situation, to which we said "we can handle one night of adjoining rooms!" Our room has a private bath with a shower- I'm not sure why we merit such swanky accommodations, but I feel like this whole place is a living, breathing, warm embrace, so it almost feels natural that they'd give us their best.
We got here just as dinner was finished, and so they brought us to a smaller dining room and warmed us plates of food- I felt so grateful that I ate every bite. I have no idea what that meat was! One of the sisters said it was "some kind of beef." But it tasted like welcome. Later, at a receptions, the sisters practically hand-fed us snacks and treats and even at the water cooler a sister filled my cup for me. Everyone introduces themselves and welcomes us and chats with us about their connection to our parish, and smiles and tells us how lovely we are.
This place is HUGE. We took a walk around the buildings last night after Vespers, admiring the grounds. It's beautiful, and beautifully kept, and designed thoughtfully to be a good home and workplace for the sisters.
This morning, I crept down the hallway to iron our clothes and found Sister Pat, who said "here, go ahead and use the iron." I said "oh are you done?" and she said "Oh, these clothes aren't mine, I just saw them here..."
I keep thinking, if we greeted people at Mass and treated them this way every time they walked into the Church (like, I have to say, Scott does), what would our church look like? I bet it'd be fuller, and full of smiling faces.