Have you ever wondered what life is like in a closed order? Where silence is maintained at all hours of the day apart from during prayer, mass and recreation time. A life remaining within cloistered walls, where you only leave to see a doctor or a dentist?
After ten years of correspondences, Michael Whyte the director of "No Greater Love," was given unprecedented access. He films the routine of the Order of Carmelite Nuns, who reside at the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity, in London’s Notting Hill.
Silence, is something I struggle with. I either fill the void with music or television so that I'm never in a silent place. I keep myself busy to avoid being faced with realities about myself. This was one thing that struck me when watching "No Greater Love," the devotion these nuns had to choose a life of silence.
One may view a life of a closed order nun as escaping reality, as they are cut off from society, from all the materialism and media which surrounds them, especially in London. It makes you wonder if they are hiding from something. From the few interviews in the film, the nuns reveal a powerful truth. We learn that instead of hiding from reality, they actually face it head on. They are faced with themselves and in the silence they are faced with their own truth which is the hardest reality to face.
In the silence they are with God, and by knowing yourself, facing your own truth, you are better able to listen to God. This is the powerful message of prayer, it was said that 'you cannot put a value on prayer, like you can a product, it still remains a mystery.'
Despite the devotional life the nuns lead, in the few interviews we see a very true and honest account of their struggles with prayer. This was very reassuring as even in their life which is dedicated to prayer, they too struggle with prayer. It took one of the nuns 18 years to deal with. I know I found comfort in that and that there is hope for my prayer life.
Death was another significant subject. When asked about death, the prioress said 'well there is always the thought that maybe the atheists are quite right and that there is a void on the other side, but I always feel then that well if that happens at least nobody would be around to tell me so, where as if I'm right, there will be somebody there to meet me.'
They too also face doubts, and though a humorous statement to make about death, it's very telling about faith. That even though they live such a contemplative life, they face certain realities about God, prayer and faith. It is not an easy life to live, but one which they feel best expresses their love for God.
In prayer they are united with the world around them. They pray for people who do not have the time to pray. This is reassuring to know that, in the middle of Notting Hill London, there lives a group of nuns praying for people they will never meet.