Thought-provoking story of a conscientious Carmelite nun, blessed by radiant visions and religious ecstasy. Or are they connected to her dangerous headaches...
I really enjoyed reading this novel. I have always been fascinated by outward manifestations of religious devotion, such as nuns' habits and the plain clothing of the Amish and Mennonites; this book brought me right into the world of Sister John and her fellow nuns, behind their habits and right into their daily lives. Sister John's struggle with God's will for her life was written convincingly, and I was impressed that a male author could do such a fine job portraying a community of women. I also appreciated that Sister John's doctor, Dr. Sheppard, was portrayed in a positive light; too few fictional doctors are reassuring characters.
This was an interesting story of the struggle of faith in the lives of cloistered nuns. I'm glad I read it.
Fascinating puzzle about the relationship between the embodied self and spiritual experience.
Too slow for my taste, but well written and thought provoking.
Quick read, beautifully written
This is the story of a cloistered nun who has for 3 years been experiencing severe headaches, during which she believes she experiences God. The plot revolves around the discovery that these headaches and "experiences" are likely related to a tumor and related epilepsy, and what this discovery means to her personally and her community. It was a quick read that left food for thought long after the completion of the book.
Somewhere outside present-day Los Angeles - cloistered inside a Carmelite convent - Sister John of the Cross spends her days in contemplation of the divinity of the Lord. While the pace of life within the walls of this holy place has remained unchanged for centuries, Sister John has dedicated her life to the service of others. She has used her God-given talents to bring recognition to her sisters and to her convent by writing inspirational and religious poetry. While she has spent her many years there honoring God and His many blessings, she has also experienced something not many people ever have.
She alone witnesses visions of such dazzling grace and spiritual intensity, that she is viewed as a modern-day prophetess by many of her sisters. These visions are both extraordinarily powerful and profoundly insightful, and Sister John has even gained some small measure of fame from within the community of Los Angles because of the brilliance of her poetry. However, despite her growing prominence as an author and poet, Sister John still remains humble and counts herself extraordinarily blessed to have had such wonderful experiences and gives all glory to God. However, sooner or later Sister John will eventually face a very human dilemma.
For years she has suffered from debilitating headaches, sharp pain that usually accompanies Sister John's miraculous visions. When a doctor reveals that her headaches may actually be a sign of something more dangerous, she faces a devastating choice. Because if Sister John's spiritual gifts are just physical symptoms of a serious illness rather than signs of grace bestowed on her, will seeking an earthly "cure" mean that her soul will ultimately become bereft; or that God will eventually forsake His faithful servant?
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In my opinion, it was a delightful story and I really appreciated this poignant glimpse into a life spent within a convent. I will say that I have always been interested in reading anything that involves living the cloistered life. I would certainly give this book an A+!
Very interesting, makes you think and wonder about how much of what she experienced was from her epilepsy or from God. Beautifully written.
The brevity of this novel makes it even more powerful. It is the story of a very devout Carmelite nun who experiences deeply religious visions, only to learn that they may have been caused by recently-diagnosed epilepsy rather than by faith. It is thought-provoking and poignant.