Change your whole life to marry the great love? Sounds like a pretty daring move. But a nun and a monk from the UK add to it: they saw each other only once before they decided to leave the Order.
There are enough unusual love stories. Sometimes you fall in love with your former nemesis; sometimes, you look for great love with a Lego reconstruction of getting to know each other; and other times, you give up everything to be with your great love. Mary Elizabeth and Robert also took this path. But to live out their passion, they had to overcome some – supernatural – hurdles.
But back to the beginning. Mary Elizabeth has been a nun with a passion for 24 years. In her Order, she has been living a quiet and modest life without much trouble and full of devotion to God since she was 19. At least until one day, she is given an extraordinary task. She is supposed to offer food to a monk who has arrived. The latter had just entered the Order, and someone had to take care of the supplies. A moment that would change Mary Elizabeth’s life forever. As she lets Robert back out the door, she touches his sleeve. “I just felt a chemistry, something, and I was a little embarrassed. And I thought, gosh, did he feel that too? And when I let him out the door, I was pretty embarrassed,” Mary Elizabeth recalled to “BBC.”
A fleeting moment. But from the slight feeling, the little tension and the moment Mary Elizabeth touches him becomes so much more because the surface is not one-sided. Quite the opposite. Robert also felt chemistry – and he wanted to act immediately. A week later, therefore, the nun receives a letter from him, completely unexpected, in which he asks her if she wants to run away with him.
Yes, you read that right. After a fleeting encounter and a quick meal, the monk was ready to put everything on the line. “I was a little shocked. I was wearing a veil, so he couldn’t even see my hair color. He actually knew nothing about me, nothing about my upbringing. He didn’t even know my real name,” says Mary Elizabeth, whose real name is Lisa Tinkler. A single touch on his sleeve to say goodbye was enough to win Robert over.
And Mary? She, too, knew little about the clergyman. But when he had visited the Order in the past, she had listened to some of his sermons and could at least glean from his private anecdotes that he had spent some time in Poland and loved the mountains. Mary Elizabeth knew nothing more, however.
And yet, there was this feeling – this chemistry that the nun couldn’t quite describe. “I didn’t know what it felt like to be in love, and I thought the sisters might see it in my face. So I got pretty nervous. I could feel the change in me and it scared me,” she says. She is initially confused when she finally confesses her feelings to her prioress. Not only because the nun’s infatuation could not be seen but because the reclusive nuns had little to no contact with others. Their reaction is ultimately what motivates Mary Elizabeth to act. Because “The prioress was a little snarky to me, so I packed my pants and a toothbrush in a bag and left, and I never went back as Sister Mary Elizabeth.”
And her first path goes straight to Robert. The two meet, and then it’s also clear once and for all: they belong together. “When I saw her, my heart stopped,” Robert recalls. For him, this reaction makes it clear that he must now turn his life upside down. Robert, by the way, has been a monk for 13 years. “But my fear was not religious or spiritual, it was just about how I would start a new life at the age of 53,” he says.
A marriage for three
So Robert left his Order – and the two start a life together in which they first have to find out who they are independent of their church. A path that was not always easy. They had to find their way in the world, outcasts from their original community. “It was so hard because we both felt so alone and isolated and didn’t know how to go on. But we just held hands and got through it,” Lisa says.
But they found a way. Lisa now works in a hospital where she is a chaplain. And although Robert received a letter from Rome expelling him from the Carmelite Order, he found another way. He has since become part of the Anglican Church of England. The two finally crowned their love with a wedding. A marriage that has overcome quite a few hurdles. But Lisa and Robert emphasize that God still plays a significant role in their union today. “I often think that I live here with Robert in a convent, like two Carmelite nuns, where everything we do is given to God. We anchor ourselves in prayer, but love can make a sacrament out of everything you do, and I realize that nothing has really changed for me,” she tells “BBC.” It is a marriage of three, they both emphasize.
Source: Mönch und Nonne treten aus Orden aus – um zu heiraten (miss.at)/picture: Bild von LeeLucy auf Pixabay
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