The monastic life appeals to me because I really like solitude, early morning and contemplative days.
I was reminded of that when Mother Teresa’s disaffected nuns described the spare conditions of their novitiate. The schedule to which they objected was just like what the boarders at Ursuline Academy experienced. Early to bed and early to rise and modest meals that kept one alive. I think the food was more generous than what we were served at the Palo Alto summer camp.
Perhaps the reason I go with a varied diet now is because the institutional food was both bland and boring.
Solitude and empathy end up being contradictory, unless the empathy stops at mewling and tongue clicking. If one is going to do something about a distressful situation, solitude has to be given up.
Mother Teresa seemed to rely on others practicing her virtues. We experienced some of that with Mother Bernadette, whose bed was unmade and room never aired out. I suppose that memory lingers because we violated her privacy by opening her door. Privacy has always been important to me. Oddly, self-centered individuals, because they ignore other people, protect privacy by default. Teresa G. was an exception.