Even relatively recent books on the German Mystics have tended to make no mention of Gertrude. Now this is changing, and Gertrude is once more coming into her own as woman, teacher and model of monastic discipleship.
Gertrude shows that it is perfectly possible to live in a monastery for many years and let routine carry you along. But one day she had a deep experience of Jesus, who reached over a seemingly insuperable barrier asking why she had not given herself wholly to his service before now.
This experience changed Gertrude from being a good and faithful (though rather mediocre) nun, to a woman wholly given to the bridegroom of her soul.
Gertrude is not harsh or judgmental towards those who fail, but she wants to warn us about how precious God’s presence is and how careful we must be not to lose it through our own carelessness, as she had done during her early years in the monastery.
Gertrude was born on January 6th, feast of the Epiphany, in 1256 and died on November 17th in 1301 or 1302.
Gertrude’s conversion came to her at an unsuspected time. It was not the occasion of her first communion, her monastic profession, or some great feast day. It was an ordinary evening as she prepared for bed. How often is God wanting to bring us to conversion, yet we are expecting it to happen on some great spiritual occasion.
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard was born into an army family and educated in England and Germany. After completing her schooling, she entered the Carmelite Order where she has been a contemplative nun for many years and is currently living in the Carmelite monastery in Quidenham, Norfolk. She has written and illustrated many books, particularly on the lives of saints.