When God tells you He wants you to go into religious life, He doesn't take something away or withhold some treat. Instead He gets someone like me to say, "Hey, if you're curious, why not read about Benedictine life in the Middle Ages? I know a gal who read all about Benedictine life in the Middle Ages, and now she's a fully professed cloistered Benedictine nun!" Then when you read about Benedictine life in the Middle Ages, the scales fall from your eyes, and you shout, "This is the most awesome awesomeness ever! I wonder if someone like me could ever .... Nah... But, I wish... Oh, I wonder...." And off you go to the internet to look up Benedictine foundations near you. That's much more likely to be God's way of telling you He wants you to go into religious life. In fact, YOU want to go, and you ask Him, and He says, "Sure!"
Meanwhile, what intrigued me most about my reader's email was that she is turning thirty, which is a significant birthday, and I love birthdays.
When I was 29 and underemployed and divorced and generally feeling like a big, fat--well, not big, fat as I was as thin as a pin--like a small, thin failure, I planned a marvelous 30th birthday party for myself. This was not as expensive as it sounds, for the Ontario convention is that if you all go out to celebrate a friend's birthday, everyone pays for him/herself and probably also for the friend. I lived out of Toronto then, but I invited a pile of old friends from Toronto and some new friends from my then city. We ate dinner at the best Chinese restaurant in town, and then we went back to my small, thin, failure flat for cake and champagne. I got some very cool presents, including a small sponge I was supposed to put in a glass of water, for it would apparently turn into a boyfriend-sized sponge if I did. (I never did.) Photos were taken, and I had them developed, so I also have a lot of lovely photos of friends, all roughly 30 themselves.
That was a marvellous party, and the thought of it made me smile all through my thirties. Then when I was almost 40, Benedict Ambrose and I arranged a smaller--for more expensive--party, and invited four friends to have lunch with us in our favourite French restaurant. We gave them lunch, and they gave me some splendid presents--including champagne flutes, baking tins and a red sequined bag that wouldn't look out of place on Old 42nd Street--and now I look back on my 40th with great enjoyment, too.
The other 40th birthday I remember in vivid detail is my father's, for my mother--very eccentrically--invited just his male colleagues and cooked the supper and didn't eat with them. Dinner was served by my brother and me. This was in 1980, so I am amazed we weren't denounced to my father's union as counter-revolutionaries or something.
Anyway, my favourite advice about Significant Birthdays is to celebrate them with as much vim and vigour (and cash) as you can command, inviting your friends and carefully selected family members to celebrate with you and, indeed, to celebrate you. This they will be happy to do, and there is no need to invite anyone likely to say, "Not married/no children yet?"