Amongst the busy streets of London and just across the road from Hyde Park stands the Tyburn Convent. The nuns that live within it do not step outside the Convent and live a life that is centred around perpetual adoration of God, ensuring that the prayer (commencing from 5.30am) carries through all around the clock. Bear no doubt that the life they lead is definitely one of hard work and determination, full of gardening, cleaning, cooking and creating a community that sustains itself as much as possible.
What drives a person to make the lifelong sacrifice of living inside the walls of a house and giving up all other aspects of life? I try to find answers through conversations with the nuns, photographing them and their (ever so little) possessions.
“I was brought up as a Christian Catholic. When I grew up, I started thinking of religious life, but I never told anybody.
You can’t have two masters at the same time. Either you choose the life of the convent, or the life of the world. If you miss the outside world, the other will not be balanced. You have to choose your life and focus on it.
Last week someone came and I was told to take them to the park. It was the first time I saw the outside since I got here. If you asked me where did you go that day, I really would not know. I felt very ashamed of myself. I felt like everyone was looking at me. When I reached the park, a Muslim lady came to me and asked me where I was from. She said she really liked my habit. I hope she will come to visit.”
“When I went into a convent fully, I was 23 years old. I was too happy. I was convinced. I was fulfilled.
We pray for London, we pray for Europe, we pray for the Queen. We pray the Pope and the church at large. Inside that prayer, you become a mother to every soul in the world. In that way we are the bride of Christ and the mothers of the world.
We all have guardian angels. We hear our guardian angel speaking to us sometimes. We do, if we are sensitive.
I would never advice anyone to live a vocation that is not theirs. To become a nun because I am a nun? No. Monastic life is a life for those who are called to live it. A life of courageous souls. It’s like moving against the current.”
“It has been a slow awakening for me. There have been dark periods when I have been way out. I thought I could do everything myself and I didn’t need God. Then I began to use people and love things. I realised my priorities were all mixed up. I realised I had to love people and use things.
I was giving my furniture away to charity. My friend said “I know some place where they would love these chairs”. I came to the convent in 2014. I walk into the parlour upstairs and I thought, this looks familiar… In 2005, my furniture arrived to the Convent even before I did. The Mother said, “God has a funny way, does not he?” I could not believe it. It was meant to be. I believe in providence, not in coincidence. I just felt at home.”