Zalig Kerstmis and Gelukkig Nieuwjaar

Blessed Christmas and Happy/Prosperous New year in Dutch/Flemish -which my four months of Nederlands classes has given me the ability to say. So…this American nun is going home to America for a month, Dec 28-Jan 27. I tour the little neighborhood around the Béguinage to say goodbye and Zalig Kerstmis; the man at the souvenir shop who faithfully sold me postcards and stamps for 60 Sisters (I wanted to share something personal which each Sister when I saw something that would interest them, eg. the horse and carriages for our Sister who loves horses; how the mussels and French fries were served for the cooking Sisters). Then there is the lady in the bakery where I bought bread in the wee hours of the morning  for our guest house when the cobblestone streets were silent and also the man at the branch of the local post office/news stand who with a little prodding warmed up to the American nun who was trying to speak Nederlands. He seemed genuinely pleased I had stopped by to say good-bye and even volunteered he thought I should stay now that I had learned the language. That was high praise! The Fast Food restaurant owner where I could have WIFI for the price of a cup of coffee made friends, and I visit her even now that I have my own connection. Her grandfather is sick and she says he is still surprised and grateful that she has a nun for a friend!

A flood of mixed feelings pours over the barricades around my heart and overwhelms me. Part of me can’t wait to see my home Sisters, my home community, and my home church. After six whole months, much will have changed. The Community of Jesus’ activities and outreaches are varied and fascinating – from music and theatre productions to school building in Cameroon. Part of me will miss my Sisters here and the quiet, peace and simplicity of the routine and recollected life. How will I do with the transition? I don’t know; but one wiser and more well-known than I, Corrie ten Boom, said, “You do not get the ticket until you are getting on the train.” I will wait and trust.

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