I’ve not heard her speak at a conference, have never been told charming dinner party anecdotes about her (even from my most well-connected Roman Catholic friends), and have not had occasional to glimpse, live and in person, Sister Wendy Beckett.
Chances are, neither have you. The British nun and art historian, now 82 years old, lives in seclusion in a trailer (or “caravan,” if you like) on the grounds of a monastery in England. Reportedly, she converses with only two people: the nun who brings her daily provisions and the prioress of the monastery. She speaks mostly to God; she spends her days in prayer.
Although the women who have the privilege of exchanging words with her over stacks of fresh linens or freshly-baked loaves of bread have been satisfied to keep her to themselves, in God’s mercy God obviously felt like it was important to share Sister Wendy with the rest of us. Over the past twenty years, through her numerous books and documentaries on art and faith, Sister Wendy has made profound – though admittedly occasional – forays into my life.
Observing her faithfulness and humility (she describes herself as “shabby and cowardly”), I have found my shallow faith and self-absorption challenged.
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