Today put a damper on my discernment search. I received a reply from the Carmel in Loretto, PA. They said they would not consider disabled applicants. Now I’m just bummed out because I have no effective way of communicating to the communities I’m interested in that when I say “disabled,” I don’t mean severely.
Loretto was really very kind in their reply, and I thanked them. They promised to pray for me and even recommended some orders that might consider disabled applicants. They seem very sweet, but when they mentioned that their Carmel was small and inaccessible, and the work schedule was too much, I realized the communities I’m writing to don’t really understand what I mean when I say I’m not incapacitated.
My disease does not progress; it will not get worse, and I won’t need to visit doctors constantly or take medicine. At most, I may need the occasional advil on a bad day. I can take care of myself without assistance, and I can certainly get up early. I live in a non-accessible dorm room by myself and walk to my college classes every day. I wash dishes, mop, and sweep. I can do laundry and cook. I can climb stairs. I can even walk without my crutches indoors. There’s nothing wrong with me. So I need my crutches to keep my balance. It’s not any different than someone needing glasses to read.
I’m sorry all, I know that was a rant. I’m just upset. I want to contact them again and explain further, but I know it won’t help. I know God is just closing this door to open another, but it hurts when I feel as though the first door was never opened. I just don’t know what to do about these letters. I can’t visit the monasteries in person yet because they are too far away, and I feel like I can’t adequately explain myself.
No one I interact with sees me as handicapped, and even my friends thought it wouldn’t have any bearing on my application because I’m so active. I know life in Carmel would be harder for me than most people, but I know I could do it. Perhaps I would be sore some days, but we all have our crosses to bear. I know with God’s help I could live this life, and I want to live it, for Him. What could I do to show I’m at least worth considering as an applicant? Should I get a letter of recommendation from my priest? I was thinking perhaps one from my doctor; he’s known me since I was four and can attest to my health.
I’m just placing it in God’s hands now. I’m hopefully going to talk with my priest next week, and move forward from there. I definitely need input from others. I’ve prayed about this, and I know I shouldn’t expect things to be easy. Even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. But he knows my pain, and so I put it in His hands. I feel called to religious life, and to Carmel. Perhaps it is just not there. Maybe it is another Carmel. Maybe it is another order. Who knows? But God leads if we follow.