The photo on this post is of a typical parlor grille. Visitors sit on the "public" side of the grillwork, cloistered nuns sit on the other (inside the enclosure), and they are able to spend time together.
The grille is a powerful symbol. I would go so far as to say that, in the cloistered heart way of life we describe here, it is the important symbol. It is a place of separation and, just as importantly, it is a place of encounter.
It is only through the grille that many cloistered individuals connect with the world. For the purposes of our analogy (which we will discuss next time), this "only-ness" is extremely important.
In order to catch the implications of the analogy, we need some idea of what grilles in actual monasteries are like - how they function and how they look.
Which is like this....
Click on the following links for a look at:
A Grille at Regina Laudis
A Grille of Carmel
"The Gaze Behind the Lattice Work"
Picture at top: Poor Clare Monastery, Barhamsville, VA. Photo by Connie Wells