Joining a nunnery is not easy, spiritually, or physically. Among the sacrifices one makes there are also demands the nunnery places on those who show interest. Aside from the obvious requirements of marital status and religious inclination, there are worldly and secular obligations. A woman with children must wait until her children are grown before she can become a nun, with the implication that she cannot divide her love and devotion. However, with the age restrictions, it seems most nuns would not have children. Few women have fully grown children before their 40’s birthdays. That must be the point – even after children are grown, a mother will always be a mother, and if the church wants those who will not divide devotion, then those with no filial commitments are best.
In fact there are no worldly concerns that a nun should have. No property, no debt, nothing that ties her to the world outside the monastery. She comes in with nothing, and gives everything within her to the church. It must be easier to never sin if there is nothing to tempt. Is it not a greater testament to faith if a person is allowed worldly temptation and refuses, rather than existing in a chasm of nothingness while celebrating their piety?
It takes up to five years (including the one to two year novice period), and sometimes longer for a woman to fully take her vows, consigning herself to God for all life. It is a slow introduction to the monastic life, and if the vows are a nun’s marriage to God, then this period would be more like the courting stages, fertile with possibility of what might come, and simultaneously barren. Unlike secular marriage statistics, few ever divorce God, even after they discover that everything they learned during the courting stages may have been entirely too neat and favorable. This is not to say the nunnery mislead them in any way, but rather that they believed what they wanted to believe, and not until living the life they chose did they understand what it meant.
Many women are very satisfied with their decisions, unmistakably happy with having entered their respective communities. How can complete sequestration fulfill anyone? They say they felt a call from God. Perhaps finding solace in God is better than any alternative on Earth. He may or may not exist, depending on what one believes, but even as an imaginary being his promises seem superior to whatever else is readily available.
A life where there is but one single purpose, without any daily stressors, but simply knowing that through belief all will be well. God promises eternal paradise in return for devotion. It may or may not come, and just like in the real world, promises are broken, but does it matter? How much can anyone care for what will be after death? Some more than others, but for many, the nunnery offers peace of mind here and now. It is the escape, from the mundane. Life is absurd, and it may just as well be that way within the confines of safety.
Perhaps one can never escape themselves, but there are ways to escape everything else.