Broken hearts don’t mend easily. We’re besieged by rapid-fire emotions—animosity, sadness, anger, resignation, regret, hopelessness, abandonment—and it feels like a constant battle just trying to take control of them.
These terrible feelings of having your heart crushed and burned are part of love, which comes to you wearing the face of the greatest joy to be experienced on this earth… yet before you know it you’ve been pushed off the cliff to the rocks below. Just experiencing that kind of pain once in a lifetime is enough to make you never want to love again, isn’t it? It makes you want to shut yourself off from it completely.
Why am I writing about lost love? Don’t worry, it’s not that I’m experiencing it, necessarily. And I’m not trying to write a report on losing love in Milan. I recently had the opportunity to visit a place that rescues people who have lost all hope, and that experience made me think about broken hearts.
There have been at least two occasions in my life where I’ve had to comfort a woman who’s hit rock bottom and wanted to become a nun as a result of lost love. And although I kind of saw where they were coming from, I ended up telling them, “Snap out of it! You’ll bounce back and are sure to meet the next great love of your life—just hang in there and get through this!!” Even so, there was a brief moment where the thought crossed my mind as well… maybe I should just become a nun. And sure enough, it was in the midst of a broken heart.
It might sound like I’m saying that all nuns started out as hopeless women with broken hearts, but obviously you realize that a temporary emotional state is not enough to get someone to withdraw from the secular world, right?
The other day I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the world of nuns, cloistered from ordinary life. I use the word “glimpse” quite literally, as I was filled with wonder looking through a door at their world. That door was not actually meant for peeking in on the cloistered nuns, however. A tiny opening no larger than the face, it was designed to allow the nuns to receive bread through a wall as the priest held communion for the believers in the church on the other side.
The convent has since been converted into a nursing home for the elderly, but you can still see reminders of its former incarnation here and there. And the little door for receiving bread for communion was the one that struck me the most.
The compound is surrounded by rolling green hills, making it quite a peaceful place. I took in a moment of quiet as I strolled the grounds, my thoughts turning to the nuns isolated from the world and devoted to worship. I then saw a magnificent structure on a hill that could be seen from the grounds. Apparently it’s a farmhouse now, but at the time it served as the monks’ quarters. Wait… monks??
It’s not that the road lead right there, but as the crow flies the monastery was only about 600 or 700 meters away. It seemed like a strange location… a bit iffy. There’s probably some interesting history there, but unfortunately I didn’t encounter anyone who knew much about it. I’ll just have to look forward to learning more on my next visit.