Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

I had originally planned to post a column for today entitled "Justice done?" which is about an issue that I had been discussing with Mother Superior. That issue is the ultimate fate of Sadam Hussein. However, New Years eve is supposed to be a happy occasion so I will save it until tommorow. Until then, from all of us at The Sisters of Embracement, Happy New Year to you and your family.

God Bless you all.

Sister Julie

New Year - New changes.

I seem to be one post behind today, so today will have to have two posts so I can catch up from yesterday. In any case, I thought I would share part of an email that was sent here to the convent. I found if very uplifting. See you later today with another post...

You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to
the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when
suddenly a sound unlike any you've ever heard fills the air.
The sound is high above you.
A trumpet?
A choir?
A choir of trumpets?
You don't know, but you want to know.

So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up. As
you do, you see you aren't the only curious one. The
roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors are open,
and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing
out of the grocery store.

The Little League baseball game across the street has
come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the
clouds. And what they see, and what you see, has never
before been seen.

As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the
atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the
earth. There are no shadows. None. From whence came
the light begins to tumble a river of color spiking
crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more
never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of
angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a
time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.

Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison,
and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the
cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, holy, holy.
The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded
elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are
silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy,
holy, holy. Between each word is a pause. With each
word, a profound reverence. You hear your voice join
in the chorus. You don't know why you say the words,
but you know you must.

Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet.
The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and
there He is.
Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure
of Christ the King.
He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop
a billowing cloud.
He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration:
I am the Alpha and the Omega.

The angels bow their heads.
The elders remove their crowns.
And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know,
instantly you know:
Nothing else matters.
Forget stock markets and school reports.
Sales meetings and football games.
Nothing is newsworthy..
All that mattered, matters no more....
for Christ has come.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Any Club That Would Have Me for a Member...

I wouldn’t join any club that would have me for a member…

…that is a quote by the late, great Groucho Marx. In my case, Mother Superior would tell you that I am wont to beat myself on the head with a club – sort of the same self-depreciating sentiment as Groucho had. The reason I missed a day in posting my column is that I had been going through my own little “mini dark night of the soul.” Today’s column is about this very subject:

St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century saint, and mystic, who wrote so much about prayer [The Interior Castle] is said to have needed nuns to sit on her during prayer from time to time to stop her from levitating off the floor. This same nun once said the following…

“If this is the way you treat your friends Lord, no wonder you have so few.”

What was she talking about? She was talking about what it takes to do the will of God.

St. Therese of Lisieux died of tuberculosis. She coughed blood and slowly suffocated to death. Her death was slow – in fact it took her months to die. Despite how anxious she became to see God, she still wished to do His will, even if it meant suffering further. On June 14, a few months before she died on September 30th, she was speaking to Mother Agnes of Jesus (her older sister Pauline whom she thought of as mother for she raised Therese for much of her life).

From Mother Agnes’ “yellow notebook”…

“I [Pauline] asked, ‘Are you tired out because of your present state that seems to be so prolonged? You must be suffering very much!’”

“Yes, but this pleases me”


“Because it pleases God.”

Even unto death Therese desired only to please God. She didn’t have any great miracles in her life. Mother Mary didn’t appear to her, like she did to St. Bernadette. Christ never spoke to her like He did to St. Gertrude.

A statue of Mother Mary smiled Therese – once.

That’s it.

Yet throughout her life and death, Christ was very real and personal to her. He was not some distant historical personage or some vague concept. He was here and now – and she loved him madly.

But what made it so easy for her to do the will of God?

Fortunately for Therese she wanted to follow the will of God “from the get go” as they say – and desperately so. She went all the way to the Pope to get into the cloistered convent of Carmel Liseux at such an early age as she did.

But what was it that enabled her to suffer for Christ? In fact she was anxious to do so. One of her fondest desires was to be a martyr for this Christ that she never met or spoke to, yet whom she loves do much.

What let her do that?

In a word – Trust.

Therese’s Little Way is usually thought of in terms of love. Yet a very large part of it is about trust. We would be right to all it…

“The Little way of Trust”

I will let Therese herself tell you about it.

“For example, if I were to say to myself, I have acquired a certain virtue, and I am certain I can practice it. For then, this would be relying on my own strength, and when we do this, we run the risk of falling into the abyss. However, I will have the right of doing stupid things up until my death, if I am humble and remain little. Look at little children. They never stop breaking things, tearing things, falling down, and they do this even while loving their parents very, very much. When I fall in this way, it makes me realize my nothingness more, and I say to myself, what would I do and what would I become if I were to rely on my own strength?”

I have asked myself that same question before. What would I do, and what would I become if I were to rely on my own strength?

Therese had a very young, very emotional novice she trained. Her name was Marie of the Trinity. Marie was wont to cry at the drop of a hat and would often come to Therese filled with grief and tears. Marie would often feel that she was no longer called to be the nun that she had struggled so long to become. It became a running joke between the two women. Each time Therese would simply say…

“I suppose you don’t have a vocation any more?”

Then both women would laugh.

Bu there are even more ways to die than bodily. Sometimes, when we decide to follow Christ and give him our all…

“My God an my all” as St. Francis of Assisi used to pray

…we have to let part of ourselves die. Sometimes our dreams have to die, and that can be just as painful as any physical death. So I ask myself “What would I do, and what would I become if I were to rely on my own strength?”

Even now I can turn on the television and see someone who went to the same high school as I did; who went to the same college as I did; who graduated with the same degree as I did. What if I followed that same path? Would I be famous?

The other option is to follow Gods dreams – His plans. If I followed my own dreams and relied on my own strength I might find fleeting glory – the vanity of man.

If I follow God dreams I would find eternal glory.

St. Paul said it best…

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

God Bless You All,

Sister Julie

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

You Can't Take it With You...

You can’t take it with you…

…but that doesn’t stop most of the world’s population from spending most of their lives trying. "Carpe Pecunia" (seize the money) instead of Carpe Diem seems to be the operative phrase of our day.

Case in point…

In today’s news, James Brown, died just this last Christmas day. It was very characteristic of such a showman as one of his friends pointed out - it all but guaranteed that all of the papers would be filled with news of his death. He left behind a wife named Tomi Rae Hynie. No matter how you may feel about her marriage to Mr. Brown, the fact remains is that she is raising Mr. Browns child. An associated press article is quoted as saying “James Browns lawyer said the later singer and his partner weren’t legally married and that she was locked out of his South Carolina home for estate legal reasons.”

The same article quotes Mr. Brown’s wife as saying “This is my home, she told a reporter outside the house. I don’t have any money. I don’t have anywhere to go.”

It never ceases to amaze me, how often people will spend their lives, and their souls, in pursuit of material wealth. Sadder still is how often so many of these same people will hurt others around them, ruin other lives and their own, all for money - and then die with it.

There is an adage that says, “I death we are all equal”

The thought here being that when a wealthy person dies, he is then equal with the poorest person. But is this really so? Think about it for a moment.

When you leave this earth what will you leave behind? If atheists are to be believed, the only thing you will be leaving behind is a dead body rotting in the ground. The sort of “live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse” mentality. Yes, there are many cases of wealthy people donating money to charity. But I have already discussed the doctor I met who made sure everyone he met found out how much money he donated to charity. Grandmother, God rest her soul, used to have a phrase to describe this. She would call it “old people trying to work their way into heaven.”

When YOU die what will YOU leave behind?

As those who have read this column before know, Mother Superior and I care for an elderly woman (who I will call Agnes) who needs round the clock care, 24-7. The last few years, the woman we care for has despaired of her condition and still having to remain on this earth while carrying such a burden. All three of us where in a car late in the evening of December 25th. I was half asleep in the back seat. I heard Agnes from the front seat, once again questioning her very existence, claiming her life served no purpose. Without even thinking about it, still have asleep I heard myself say, “You allow to nuns the chance to serve God.”

When Agnes dies she will leave behind the many life lessons she taught me - lessons on how to serve others, and do so cheerfully. It is one thing to talk about serving others. The idea is easy to conceive of and hold in our minds. But carrying that out - putting it into practice. Aye there lays the rub. Some can be an usher in church on Sunday mornings. They may mow their neighbor’s lawn. But to live a life in service to others…that is another matter altogether. Even when one lives a life in service to others, harder still is to always do it cheerfully…emphasis on the word ALWAYS. Serving others cheerfully when you are tired, when you simply don’t feel like doing it, or when you are hurting yourself - that is another matter altogether.

One of the people that was able to do this, who comes to mind instantly, every time I think of this, is the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. When she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by then President Ronald Regan in 1985, he said she was the only person he ever awarded the medal to, who was likely to melt it down and sell it, so she could use the money to feed others.

Yes it is true that God loves us all equally. But think of this.

When someone who has lived all their lives filled with hatred, greed and hording wealth like a miser dies what do they leave behind and what do they take with them? What they take with them is the same greedy hateful attitudes and the bad karma of having put those attitudes into practice.

Now what do you think happened when the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta died? What did she leave behind? Many, many people whose lives were enriched by her presence. She left behind the many of the worlds poor that she took care of when no one else would. She and her sisters lived the same lives that those whom they served did. What did she take with her? The gratitude and love of all those she left behind.

Now imagine the miser and the Blessed Mother Teresa standing before God for judgment. What do you think will happen? Do you still think they will be equal in the eyes of God? Or will God think that Mother Teresa had been a good and faithful servant and used her life as God willed?

So I leave you today with one final question.

What will you leave behind?

God bless you all,

Sister Julie

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas the night after Christmas

Twas the night after Christmas, and all through the house
Not a nun was there stirring, twas quiet as a mouse.
The dishes were all washed, stacked in cupboards now bare,
The guests had all gone, sent packing with care

The nuns were nestled all snug in each bed,
While two dogs and a rabbit, crowded one nun instead…
Each dog had a doghouse, all their own they could keep
But instead settled down, somewhere else for their sleep

”Sister Julie is a softie,” they thought, “It won’t matter”,
”if we sleep in her bed, and make quite a clatter.”
Up on her bed, the big dog flew like a flash,
But one was too short, to make such a dash

Still the small one found a way to let sister know,
that he wanted a lift, from the floor down below.
He whined and he cried, his eye shed a tear,
and his tail, wagged like lightening at the end of his rear.

Julie picked up the small one, who was lively and quick,
and said, “I need sleep or I’m going to get sick”.
”Settle down” she yelled, and she called them by name,
but they ignored her, and wrestled and played all the same!

"Stop dashing, stop dancing!” she started to call
but they both kept it up, in spite of it all.
”Oh come on!” Julie shouted, “don’t be stupid, I am missin’
all the sleep you both know I should be now be gettin’”

Both dogs ran around like wild hurricanes fly,
When one saw an obstacle, out of the corner of his eye.
Sister picked up the small one, and grabbed big one too,
and grabbed both by the collar and each dog now knew.

Sister Julie meant business, her look was now proof
Still the small one protested with one tiny ‘woof’
”If you want to sleep on my bed, stop turning around”
”Stop leaping and jumping,” she said to each hound.

She stroked both their fur, from their head to their foot
And saw all the bed clothes now grimy with soot.
The small one she set at the top of the bed,
And said to the big one, “lay down your wild head”

His eyes-how they twinkled! He wanted to play!
He wouldn’t sleep! He wouldn’t stay!
Sister gave him a frown, a furrow on her brow,
Then the big dog knew, that Julie meant now!

With part of a pillow held tight in his teeth
The big one lay down, laid curled like a wreath
At the other end of the bed, laying down on his belly
the small one slept, just a little bit smelly

He was chubby and short, but never a git,
that little old dog that she loved quite a bit!
she stroked his small head, as she lay on the bed,
and started to think of the next day with dread.

She spoke not a word, but still thought of work,
outside of the convent, and turned with a jerk
But just couldn’t sleep, she thought “who knows”.
”Maybe one day I’ll sleep,” and so up she rose

And back on the bed, two happy dogs smile,
Knowing the plan, they had all the while,
Had finally worked, as Sister Julie disappeared from sight,
To have the bed to themselves, and they slept through the night.

© 2006 Sister Juliemarie WhiteFeather

Monday, December 25, 2006



There are many places in the world with many Christmas traditions. To some it is Christmas movies, Christmas Trees, and houses lighted with bright Christmas lights. To others it means families gathered around a dinner table, celebrating Christmas together. Still others remember Christmas morning as a child, knee deep in wrapping paper, and playing with new toys. Whether or not we are still with the families that we shared these things with, we still remember them - I know I do. Such are the words in a song, “I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams.” It may be that the members of those families have gone their separate ways, or gone home to heaven. It may be that a person is far away from home during family holidays. I have experienced bittersweet holidays being thousands of miles away from any family, overseas in the military. Like many, I still think of Christmas in terms of family traditions, but Christmas has come to mean so much more to me.

I did not grow up with a spiritual sense of Christmas. Certainly, I heard the story of the Nativity. Until I was an adult I never had any deep spiritual connection with Christmas. It is one thing to understand something with your mind, it is a far cry different to hold it in your heart.

Now there is something very, very special about Christmas for me. Something that happens every year. That special something special is Midnight Mass. Each Christmas Eve the local Carmelite Convent has midnight mass. The sisters there are cloistered. I have never met any of them, and only seen them from the other side of the grill that divides their half of the chapel from the public half. Still, it is a very deeply moving moment for me, each year.

Music moves the spirit and soothes the soul.

At the midnight mass each Christmas, the sisters in the convent sing. What beautiful voices they have. It is as if, for a brief moment, the firmament opens up and Heaven and Earth are connected. I go early, at least an hour, so I can sit in the peace of the chapel and listen to the sisters sing. As I close my eyes and pray, with the Carmelite sisters singing in the background, it is very much like being swept away body and soul to Carmel Lisieux - back to France in 1895, seen below.

When Therese reached the point in her life where God was nearly ready to call her home to heaven, she was visited by her sister Pauline one evening. Pauline told Therese that she should get some rest. Therese told her that she was too busy praying. When Pauline asked her sister what she said to Jesus, Therese replied simply “Nothing, I just love Him.”

At Medjugorgie Mother Mary talks about coming to Jesus in silence. The most efficacious prayer can be simple silence. And so I come to God in the silence of the Chapel. The sisters sing in the background and it is as if I am there in Lisieux, at Midnight Mass, with some very special sisters, Therese among them.

It is moments in my life - moments like these - that have lead me to understand some very special words spoken by Therese. Those words are these:

“Life is a moment between two eternities.”

God bless you all.
Sister Julie

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hey Baby!

Hey baby…

When was the last time you saw an evil baby? Ridiculous movies like “The Omen” aside (which are little more than absurd fantasies) have you ever seen or even heard of an evil newborn?

You haven’t have you? Of course not. No one has.

Newborn babies are pure innocent beings. This is the time of year when the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which I have mentioned before in this column, is often viewed. That’s the movie where George Bailey’s angel, Clarence Oddbody AS2 (angel second class as he tells us) gives George Bailey his wish - he changes the world so George Bailey had never been born. But think about that for a moment..

George Bailey doesn’t wish he was never born until some time later in his life. Not so when he was born. As a newborn, we are all God’s innocents. God is glad we are born. He always loves us. But what happens between when that same baby is born and later on when George Bailey, or anyone like George Bailey wishes he or she had never been born?

A few days ago I made one of my extremely rare excursions to a shopping mall. Not by choice, merely by happenstance. I hate shopping. It is sort of a by product of being a nun I guess. So there I was in my habit and veil, as you see me above. I was there with two other women, one of them being an elderly woman whom we take care of. I have a habit (pun intended) of wearing white socks with my black habit and black veil. I will get into how that particular habit started at a later time. The elderly woman notices my white socks and offers to buy me some black socks. She tells me I should wear them so “I look official.” Mind you, I am used to getting questions like “are you a recognized convent?” My answer is usually something along the lines of, “Yes, I recognize the convent every time I come home” or “Yes, God knows who we are.” This time I merely replied, “God hears my prayers no matter what color socks I am wearing.”

The elderly woman, whom I will call Agnes, takes this as a cue to mean that God speaks to me personally and answers all my prayers as if I had a hotline to God and could simply pick up the phone and dial up Heaven. I assured her that God hears my prayers, but the answers aren’t always what I want - good thing too. I can think back on all of the earlier times in my life when I too wished that I had “never been born” (or “never existed” as I put it). God never answered that prayer. My guardian angel, what ever his or her name may be, simply chuckled a bit, and went back to the business of protecting a rather clumsy woman who would one day be a nun.

Agnes has quite a few illnesses - she survived tuberculosis. She has emphysema, one lung doesn’t work, the other has cancer. She has also had a stroke. She is now in a wheel chair. This is the point at which Agnes turns to me and says, “well then ask God why I have all these things wrong with me.”

At this point I mentioned that I don’t have a hot line to God but she certainly could ask Him herself. “But you said he answers all your prayers,” Agnes said.

There lays the rub, as Shakespeare would have said. God may hear all my prayers but the answer isn’t always what I wanted it to be. Again, good thing too. What I didn’t mention was the obvious. God didn’t make Agnes smoke for 52 years. She did that one on her own, and caused much of the problems her self. This brings me to the second point.

Agnes certainly wasn’t born with a cigarette in her mouth. We are all born innocent babies. But a lot of what happens to us in between the time when someone is born, and the time someone may wish they had never been born is up to us. We are born innocent, but after that, even if God has a plan for our lives we are all free to “give God the finger” and go our own way. And that, my friends, is where the trouble starts.

Notice I said “a lot” above. There are times when we all say “How can God let that happen?” Well the operative word there is what ever the “that” is. The reasons are as myriad and varied as the number of people to which “that” occurs. Some times bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, they happen for a reason. My own mother was born with cerebral palsy. She told me once that she thought she would not have become the warm person everyone loved if she had not been born with cerebral palsy. As the result of mom’s “that” I also learned. To me mom’s cerebral palsy was just part of mom. It meant she needed a bit of extra help some times but it taught me a lot. On the face of it mom’s cerebral palsy might have been considered a tragedy by some. But not by mom, and not by me. We are both better people today because of it.

But what about those times when we have made a mess of our lives ourselves? When my life was a shambles and I wished “I had never been born” I did it to my self. But even if I wasn’t glad I had been born, God WAS glad that I had been born. Not only that he still had a plan for my life.

Remember the article I wrote about life not coming with a contract? Well it may not come with a contract, but it DOES come with promises. The great thing about those promises is that the ones that life comes with - the ones that are “installed at the factory” before we are born - is that they are made by God. The great thing about promises made by God is that, even if we don’t live up to what God expects of us, He ALWAYS lives up to His end of the deal. God always keeps His promises. Even if we have spent part of our lives giving God the finger. He always forgives us. He always takes us back.

So why is God so generous? Why does He do all this? Because my friends, of one very special baby…

The baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas everyone

Saturday, December 23, 2006

There are no divisions in Heaven!

Today’s column starts with a small story…

A man died and went to heaven. St. Peter met him at the gate to heaven and showed him around. Half way through the tour of heaven they pass a locked door. St. Peter points at the door and says, “Don’t bother them, that’s (insert name of religion here) they think they’re alone up here.

How true, how true. Also how incredible.

Last night I watched a television show hosted by Barbara Walters. It purported to be all about heaven. What amazed me was how little of it was about heaven and how much of it was about hate.

Yes I said hate.

Here is why…

The Christian couple who were broadcasting to millions (7 million per the broadcast) where dead certain that anyone who wanted to go to heaven had to be a Christian. No exceptions. No Christian, no heaven. I guess we will all have to wait and see if the gate to heaven has a very large sign on it that says in letters 64 feet high “CHRISTIANS ONLY. ALL OTHERS TAKE THE ELEVATOR TO YOUR LEFT DOWN TO HELL.”

Remarkably enough , I later listened to a Muslim tell Barabara Walters the same thing about everyone who wasn’t a Muslim. Barabara looked at the man and said, “What about me. I am sitting here across from you and I am not a Muslim. Do you want me to go to hell?” Again, ironically, this same man was certain that Allah would reward people for being suicide bombers and killing other human beings. He was right about one thing - whatever God he was worshiping that rewarded people for killing other people, for whatever the reason, wasn’t any God I know. Sadly enough, whatever God he was worshipping it certainly wasn’t Allah. In fact a Muslim Scholar was interviewed shortly after the man and he indicated that no where in the Koran does it allow people to kill other people. I will take the Scholars word on this one. I have never read the entire Koran. Just part of it. Just prior to the interview, Barbara said of the Muslim that thought suicide bombers would be rewarded, “Ironically he may be the one going to hell.”

How true, how true.

One thing is also true. We live in a world where….

Most Christians think everyone who isn’t a Christian is going to hell…

There are Muslims who think people who aren’t Muslim are going to hell…

There are Jews who think people who aren’t Jews are going to hell..

The current Pope (keep in mind here that I am Catholic) seems to feel for some bizarre reason that all Jews must become Christian to be saved. No denying this one folks. I heard it come out of the mans own mouth. He may have been misquoted in the press about saying the Muslim faith was evil, but he can’t deny the anti-Semitic attitudes.

If this is true my friends, hell is going to be one crowded place and heaven will be completely empty.

Ok…say it with me…


There are several aspects I am just incredulous about when it comes to all this. First on the list is the Popes idea that all Jews must become Christian to be saved.

Message to His Holiness…

“Hello *knocks on Papal Crown* is anyone home! Christ is JEWISH! His mother is Jewish, all of the apostles where Jewish. “

None of them gave up their faith as Jews to be Christians. In fact in the early Christian church, St. Paul and the rest of the apostles had a running argument about whether or not you first had to be Jewish to be Christian. St. Paul was against - the rest of the apostles for awhile were for.

What I also find so incredulous is all of the Muslims, Christians and Jews who all think they seem to be worshiping different Gods.

“Hello!! Fellas! You all have the same progenitor! Father Abraham. He worshiped the One God. You are all worship the same God people.!!!!”

As for Buddhists. I can only speak for the Buddhists in this convent. We believe in God and in Heaven.

Friends. There are so many names and paths to God - pick one and find God at the end of it. Which brings me to the next point. The atheist in the interview. This woman thought death was the end. That was it. After that, no more existence and lay there and rot. Wow, how futile. What was incredible was one of her reasons. It allowed her to concentrate on making her own life better in this life. Wow. At least she admitted that it allowed her to be self centered.

Here is the big but (no not my big butt).

I would like to see an interview with her at the other end of her life and see how she feels. Let me tell you a quick story about a doctor I once met. He was a veterinarian. Within five minutes of meeting this man, I noticed that he told everyone how much money he gave to Charity. He did this to impress people. I hope everyone was duly impressed because that was how he got his reward. As I got to know this man, I got to see how his bank account became his soul. How many people I have met that spend there entire lives in pursuit of material wealth.

Message to said people, “HELLO! YOU CAN’T TAKE ANY OF THE WEALTH WITH YOU!!!”

The sad end to this story is when said doctor developed cancer. As he lay dieing in his hospital bed he was heard to say “If only he had done…” here insert al the things he should have done instead of pursue wealth.

So if you remember nothing else about this forum or this article, remember what follows:

Repeat after me…

There are no divisions in heaven!!

There is no Christian Heaven; There is no Muslim Heaven, there is no Jewish Heaven, there is no Buddhist Heaven. There is only Heaven. No locked doors where you can conveniently hide away from someone who had a different name for God than you.

Don’t believe me? That’s ok. I have been called a heretic before. The important thing is, if you are reading these words you have been told. By me. I have given you the truth that God has given me. What you do with that truth is up to you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

There is no sanity clause...

There is no sanity clause…

Life doesn’t come with a contract. God doesn’t make us sign one. It is perhaps a good thing too – for many of us would run afoul of the sanity clause – myself included. If there were such a clause, mankind, taken as a whole, and many of its individual members as well, would have had to give life back to its creator long ago. But such is not the case.

Despite the holiday traditions portrayed in movies such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” - many people seem show “peace on earth good will toward men” by taking out nasty attitudes and strutting them around the block for all to see. The convent subscribes to the local paper. When I opened it to the back page, I saw an article that very vividly portrayed the “good will” that some of our fellow human beings hold in their heart. Let me quote part of the article for you:

Associated Press 12/22/2006

Rosie & The Donald

Things got even uglier Thursday in the bitter war of words between Donald Trump and Rosie O’ Donnell.
The Donald called the Los Angles-based morning show “Good Day L.A.” to sound off on O’Donnells’s remarks about the near-firing of Miss USA. Tara Conner.
“Maybe she wanted to put the crown back on Miss USA’s head,” the real-estate mogul said of the openly gay O’Donnell, who has four children with her partner, Kelli. “I think she’s very attracted to Miss USA so she probably wanted to put the crown on her head herself.”
Insult No. 2: “She is a very, very unattractive woman who really is a bully”
Insult No. 3: “Ultimately Rosie is a loser, and ultimately (“The View”) will fail because of Rosie…”

No matter how one may feel about Rosie O’Donnell or Donald Trump, if life had a sanity clause, Donald Trump just violated his contract. At this point it would be good to remember the words of Christ “Love one another as I have loved you.” (side note to Donald Trump, no exceptions Donald, love one another whether the person is a lesbian or not). If you are Buddhist, as I am, and read the above words, I would say that whoever uttered those words in the associated press article may be destined to come back as a lesbian woman with a very disfiguring disease.

Let me say it again. “Love one another as I have loved you”…

…even if that person irritates the hell out of you.

Loving someone who is busy hurling insults at us is one tall order, but no exceptions means no exceptions. But just how are we to go about trying to love someone who treats us like that?

Well fortunately for you and I, I know a little French nun who can tell us how. Dear Sister Therese. The Little Flower. But let me let Therese tell you in her own words.

“There was at that time a certain nun who managed to irritate me in everything she did!…I prayed for her whenever we met, and offered all her virtues and merits to God…and when tempted to answer her sharply I hastened to giver her a friendly smile, and talk about something else; for as it says in Imitation [The Imitation of Christ], it is better to leave everyone to their own way of thinking than begin an argument…She said to me one day, her face radiant, ‘What do you find so attractive in me? Whenever we meet you give me such a gracious smile; what attracted me?’ It was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus who makes attractive even what is most bitter.”

Another way Therese once put it was simply, “Let God love them through you.”

So who ever the Donald Trump may be in your life, give them a big smile, and offer all of their virtues up to God. If you can’t find any virtues, leave it up to God to find them. It may be hard to smile at someone like that at first. Eventually the smile will be genuine. If nothing else, use an old adage as a starting point: “smile-everyone will wonder what you are up to.”

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Christmas Wish...

The Christmas Wish…

Oddly enough the story of this Christmas wish starts with a dead body.

Bear with me. This Christmas wish may not start out pretty, but like so many paths to God, it ends up gloriously.

There was a time in my life when the only way anyone would have known I died was when the body started to smell out in the hallway. For reasons which I will not get in to, but which many people who are born like I was will understand, there was a time in my life when my relatives where either dead or had disowned me. I will leave out of the equation the relative who threatened me bodily harm.


There are many people who are alone during the holidays. Walk down the streets of the average city. Look for the heating grates, and the underground streets. You will find plenty of them. But they aren’t all in the streets. Some of them may be the people you work with. Case in point. God rest his soul, Gerald Johnson.

I worked with Gerald for many years until he transferred to a different department. I didn’t know him as well as others did. Now it is too late. Gerald hadn’t shown up for work for at least a week. One of his co-workers finally went up to Gerald’s department head and asked where Gerald was. Sadly enough the department head didn’t know. So the co-worker and one of his friends went over to Gerald’s house.

No Answer.

They called the fire department. One thing lead to another and the fire departmentwent in to the house. Gerald was there, dead on his bathroom floor. He had been there for a week. The fireman simply came out and told Gerald’s co-workers “You don’t want to go in there.”

So often people don’t appreciate God’s greatest gifts until they are gone. Many is the morning that Grandmother would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to make grandfather breakfast, when he had to be at work at 6:00 am. A cheerful voice would shout up the stairs of their house “It’s on the table Mabel” This happened even after grandfather retired. All the same, my grandfather had a little ditty he would sing in off moments, when both he and grandmother where still alive. He would sing, “It’s a great life with a wife, it’s a great wife without a wife – who the hell wants a wife.”

He did.

When grandmother died and her voice no longer called up the staircase “it’s on the table Mabel” then he began to appreciate the voice.

So that brings me to my Christmas wish. I learned to appreciate God’s gifts because there were times in my life when they were taken away. God was merciful in my case. He gave them back in wonderful ways I never dreamed possible. So let me go through my list of what I want for Christmas.

Top of the list – I want a family.

What a wonderful gift. I have a family again. I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night and I am not alone. I have my convent. Mother Superior, though she doesn’t have to, gets up on those mornings I work outside the convent and makes breakfast for me. Hot Swedish coffee and some of the best food you have ever tasted. That brings me to my second wish.

Lord, I want food to eat.

There was a time, long before I became a nun, that people would ask me how I lost so much weight. My answer was always the same. Suicidal depression and starvation - at the time I was so thin I looked like I had just escaped from a death camp. Now? Wow! What food! Mother Superior’s cooking is rarely outdone. When her brother comes to visit on the holidays I find out that it is occasionally possible to out do her cooking! What a cook he is as well! But always, I remember, whenever I eat – that in order for me to eat, something had to give it’s life so I can live. And so I thank God for the gift of that life, whether it is simply a plant life or an animal life. I thank God for the gift of that life so I can live. That brings me to my next wish.

A life – Lord I want a life.

Many is the time we have all heard someone say “Get a life” Yes I have a life, and what a life it is! True, in order to get this wonderful life, I had to be willing to give up a few dreams of my own. The world may never have another actress it doesn’t need. The other side of the bed is taken up with two dogs and a rabbit each time I go to sleep. Ever heard of the group or expression “Three dog night”? Well when it is cold in our neck of the woods (and even when it is not) for me it is always a “two dog and one rabbit night” When my life had hit bottom (see the above paragraph about people only knowing I was dead when the body started to stink) I finally gave my life to God with no reservations – and He gave me my life back. He gave me a wonderful life. If you have ever seen the movie “The Blues Brothers” you will have seen the parts of the movie when they say “We are on a mission from God.” Well, in my case, that is truly the case.

So my Christmas wish list consists of a family, food to eat, and a wonderful life. Looks to me like I already have everything I could ever want. The best thing is, I didn’t even have to ask for any of it. God already knew. I gave my life to Him and he gave me all these wonderful things.

There is one more small wish. Well perhaps not too small. It is a big one – a real biggie in fact. I will admit, this particular Christmas wish has yet to be fulfilled. Some may think that God is falling down on the job. The odd thing is, He keeps trying to give us this gift and as a whole, mankind seems to keep telling Him we don’t want it. But I do, and so I will keep praying for it. In fact, that same prayer that God asks for is really why He threw in the answer to the other Christmas wishes as sort of a bonus gift. That’s because He cares. So I will keep praying, not for God to grant this Christmas wish, but for a time when mankind is finally willing to accept this last Christmas wish of mine. It is a doozie. My last Christmas wish? Simple.

Peace on Earth.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Good guys wear black (veils)

“Is that you?”

These were the words that greeted me one day, some time ago, in the early days of my being a novice. They were spoken to me as I was clearing out my old apartment in the city for the last time. There I stood with my key in the door, for perhaps the last time. From behind me I heard the words again.

“Julie is that you?” asked a former neighbor.

“Yes it is”, I replied.

“The only way I knew it was you was because you had a key to the door.”, she exclaimed.

I hadn’t notice the change in myself in those days, but apparently some of the people around me did.

Black clothes (in fact I still wear black but now the style of the clothes has certainly changed). Stark white makeup. Black out sunglasses. Dark clothes and a dark attitude toward life. That was me all over. I hadn’t quite realized it all until one day, as a nun, someone who had met me then told me they thought I was quite “Goth” People began to speak to me who hadn’t before. When I asked a woman at work why she hadn’t ever spoken to me before, she said simply, “I was afraid to”.

How times change, and sometimes change us for the better.

When I was growing up (in fact I still think I am in the process of growing up) the last thing I thought I would be is a nun. I wanted to be an FBI agent, an oceanographer and then an actress. In that order. When I wanted to be an oceanographer I wanted to go to a college I was later told that Jacques Cousteau would have had trouble getting in to. I actually did earn a degree in theater. I got paid for acting for all of one summer. But hey, at least I can say I acted professionally. Some would say I am still acting – just now I am “acting up”.

But God had other ideas for my life.

I look back on some of the painful times I have had in my life and I can see how they made me who I am today. Without them I would never have become a nun. The difference between myself and other nuns is diverse to say the least. A large part of those differences come from the many painful experiences that it took me a lifetime to face up to. What other nun can say that before she became a nun she had relationships three out of the four possible ways? Can say that she has been both a husband and a wife? Can say that she has been the other woman and has been “other womaned” (I was ran out on for another woman at one point).

After all that, God showed me who I truly was. Who I had been (from a Buddhist point of view) and who I will be.

Now I can’t imagine being anything else but a nun. I did, in fact, try and get away from it once. For a brief period of 24 hours I tried to wrap my mind around leaving the convent and not being a nun (I was a novice at the time). I couldn’t do it. I found I had a deep seated need to be a nun in this particular order. At the time I had no idea why.

As it has been said before… “The prophets longed for these days”.

Oddly enough (at least to me originally) material possessions have become meaningless. I once heard a line in a movie where one character asks another “how many yachts can you water ski behind.” Too true. When I moved from the city to the suburbs in preparation for the process necessary to enter the convent I filled up the building’s garbage chute to the fourth floor, four times. Not with garbage, with material possessions. Someone who helped me move said, “How can you throw all those things away.” My reply was simple. “If you want them you can have them.”

So these days I find myself inexorably drawn, like Marie-Louise Castel to follow in the footsteps of my dear Sister Therese Martin. I have learned something very important about myself – “Good guys wear black (veils)”

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Gorilla Walks Into a Bar...

There is an old joke that goes something like this (in fact it goes exactly like this)…

“A gorilla walks into a bar. He orders a beer. The bartender gives the gorilla a beer and says, “That will be 20 dollars. You know, we don’t get many gorilla’s in here.” The gorilla replies, “At prices like these I’m not surprised.”

I had an experience today that reminded me of “old times” and in my case that is NOT a good thing. For me, the life I live now is “the good old days”. My past is another matter.
As my readers know, I was born a hermaphrodite. I have spent much of my life suffering insults as a result. The hardest part has been learning to not only endure the treatment but to offer it up to God. Why offer it up to God? Here is why…

About a month before my dear sister Therese (St. Therese of Lisieux) died, one of her young novices, Marie of the Trinity went to visit her. We shall discuss more of this visit in a future blog. What is important are the words with which Therese ended the conversation with her novice. These are those words:

“When I am in heaven, you will have to fill my little hands with prayer and sacrifices to give me the pleasure of casting these as a shower of graces upon souls.”

My dear friends, God doesn’t always need someone to perform great deeds to serve him. Not everyone is called to be a martyr or a prophet. Only Moses parted the Red Sea. Sometimes God just needs someone to offer up a small bit of suffering to Him, to his dear daughter Therese, so she can use it to “shower graces upon souls.”

Today I went to visit a book store owned and operated by a local convent. Obviously I do not intent to tell you the name. There is no point in telling tales out of school. What is significant is how I was treated. Keep in mind, I was dressed in my habit and veil, as you see me in my picture. I have visited this convent and store before. A dear friend, who is also on our board of directors used to work there (she has since gone on to teaching). I used to go there all the time to pray in their little chapel. I loved to buy spiritual books there when my funds allowed. In fact during my noviate, I bought many of the books I studied there.

But times change and so, it seems, have all the sisters in this particular convent. None of the nuns I knew (pun intended) are there any more. When I went into the store I was followed like a hawk from the moment I set foot in the store. The poor little nuns apparently thought I wouldn’t notice that one of them just “happened” to be straightening up the shelves where ever I went as I walked around the store. This behavior even persisted to the point where I was followed and watched when I prayed in the chapel – with the door which I left open so they could still see me. I was treated like I am a criminal.

How terribly said.

I bought my book. I stopped to pray. As I was leaving, I stopped to put on my coat. One of the nuns just “happened” to need to read a book next to where I was standing. After all this time, she works up the courage to ask me – as I am standing there in my habit and veil – “are you a nun”?

I politely assured her I was.

Now my dear friends, I know I am not the cutest little nun ever to cross a threshold. But God does not go for “good looks” when he chooses a bride. He goes for a pure soul.

So in the end, my little story comes back to the gorilla in the joke I started out with. Let me change it a bit. “A nun walks into a book store. She is followed around the store, every inch of her movements being followed. As the clerk behind the counter sells her a book she says, “you know we don’t get many ex-hermaphrodite nuns in here.” The nun replies, “with treatment like this, I am not surprised.”

I will leave you, readers, by sharing the thanks I owe the people in the book store who treated me like a criminal based only on my looks. I address this to the sisters who followed me around:

“Thank you sisters for allowing me the opportunity to offer up just a small bit of suffering to God and my sister Therese.”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

65 Roses CAN'T be wrong!

65 roses CANT be wrong.

I realize there are those of you who may have not met my dear Sister Therese. The world knows her as “St. Therese of Lisieux” She is a dear sweet sister who lived 24 short remarkable years. She was a cloistered Carmelite nun in Liseux, France. For those who have not met her, she has written a remarkable account of her life and her soul in a book called simply “The Story of a Soul” There is also a remarkable movie about her called “Therese” What can I say about such a dear wonderful woman. For those of you who have come to know her, you will have seen, as I found, a woman who, like all of us, went through her own troubled times – her “dark night of the soul" Yet she learned to love God with every fiber of her being. She rose above her troubled soul to become a saint. There is a story I would like to share with you all that tells much about this remarkable sister. It is the story of a last smile.

For those of you who may not be nuns, and I will bet there are a lot of you, in a cloistered convent, there is a part of the convent where visitors can go that is traditionally much like a grill, a latticed “window” if you will, where people can visit with the cloistered sisters.

Again, for those of you who may not be nuns, I can tell you, when you are in a convent with someone, they become your family. Like the modern expression “My brother from another mother” the sisters in the convent with you are truly that – your sisters. It doesn’t matter if you shared the same mother or not.

And so to the story of a last smile….I will let Marie of the Trinity tell you herself.

“When Therese died, the body was laid out in front of the grill so that visitors could come and pay their respects. Often people would pass rosaries through the grill to the sister in attendance so that was she could touch the rosary to the body. During the time I spent with Therese, there at the grill, I couldn’t stop crying. I was very close to Therese. She was my best friend. She was my sister. She taught me how to love God. My tears fell and would not stop. It was just as a visitor passed a rosary through the grill to me that it happened. I reached down to touch the visitor’s rosary to Therese’s body and it got caught in her fingers! No matter what I did I couldn’t get it loose! There I was, pulling and crying and nothing I could do would free the rosary. As I was struggling I heard Therese say to me interiorly ‘I am not going to let go until you give me a smile.’ I said to myself, ‘No I feel like crying. I’m not going to smile.’ Soon the visitor started getting impatient with me and said, ‘what is taking so long.’ Then the humor of the situation struck me and I started laughing. As I did the fingers let go and there I had the rosary back again. Therese got her smile.”

Therese was a woman of remarkable humor. She can make you laugh and make you cry. She brought everyone who knew her, and who gets to know her closer to God. She has taught me how to love God. How to feel loved by God. She has even taught me to love everyone who hates me right back. Like everyone who has ever met her, or come to know her, I miss Therese terribly and long to be with her. Before God called her home she said would “spend her heaven doing good on earth” and said, “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.” That has become the way that Therese lets you know she has heard your prayer – with a rose.

There came a time when my life had hit bottom. I was ready to kill myself. Instead of killing myself, I admitted to God that I couldn’t handle my own life any more. It was only when I was willing to give my entire life to God, with no conditions, that He turned my entire life around. Where there was misery, there is now joy.

In those dark days, before I even considered being a nun, I went to the convent I now call home. I had met the sister who is now my Mother Superior, very briefly, years ago. I am not sure, to this day, why I went there, other than to say, God guided me there. I was welcomed with open arms. Mother Superior hid my keys so I could not leave and watched over me. In those days when I first gave my life to God, no one knew I was at the convent. I felt worthless. I felt alone. Yet Therese let me know I was loved, and that she was watching over me in a very special way. I had just begun praying. I asked Therese a very special question in prayer. To this day only Mother Superior and I know what that question is. I got the answer to my question. I found a new life that is wonderful. I walked into the kitchen for an evening meal and there they were, delivered to me – 65 roses. Therese was watching over me. She has always been there for me.

Thank you Sister Therese for showing me the way, and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for finding me again.

65 roses can’t be wrong.

50,000 Frenchmen CAN be wrong...

50,000 Frenchmen CAN be wrong…

For those of you who may have not heard it, there is an old adage that says “50,000 Frenchman can’t be wrong”. I can’t be sure, but it certainly sounds like a mustard commercial to me. Perhaps it was before my time (as hard as it seems to be). The point is this – we live in a world where the person in the mirror rarely considers themselves to be wrong. It must be the other person’s fault.

I have seen and experienced this over and over again in my life. The world is full of people who consider themselves “good Christians” who are dead set certain that God hates gay men and lesbian women. The average person who feels this way has learned or been taught hatred or distrust of people who are gay or lesbian. If you ask them about their unreasoning hatred, many people will point you in the direction of Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”. Yet the same person will conveniently stop reading before they reach Leviticus 25:44 to 46 “As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.” If you use the first scripture to justify your hatred, you must therefore accept the second. The question then becomes “How many Canadians can I own”? The truth of the matter is there is a term for this. It is called “Displaced Hostility”.

Time and time again I have gone through my life facing people who are sure that there is something wrong with me. To this day there are people where I work who will not get on an elevator with me. There are people who will not speak to me. Why? Because of how I was born – a hermaphrodite. These people, in many cases, have known me for 20 plus years. They are certain that I am some sort of an abomination.

There are people who, to this day, walk up to my sister and say “Why is she always angry”? For those people I have a little story. It was told by Leo Buscaglia, who spent so much of his life lecturing and writing about love and life. Dr. Buscaglia tells of the time he was on an airplane and the passenger in the seat next to him spent much of the flight being rude and nasty to the stewardess. When the passenger asked Dr. Buscaglia what he did for a living, he responded that he lectured about love. The man in the seat next to Leo said “Well thank got someone feels about life like I do.”

Displaced Hostility. Many is the time that people are just downright nasty, yet rather than admit to themselves that THEY are the ones who are angry, they are certain that it is everyone around them.

So if you go through your life, as I have, the subject of unreasoning hatred and anger. Remember…50,000 Frenchmen CAN be wrong. Just tell all those Frenchman to calm down, take a long hard look in the mirror, and keep their anger to themselves.

Then read about how 65 roses CANT be wrong.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I think of you every day. Much love.

First, if you are reading this, let me apologize for the gap in posts. I was beginning to doubt whether or not anyone was reading the blog, and so I left it unattended for awhile. In any case, here is a new posting:

“I think of you every day. Much Luv”

There were the words above…”I think of you every day. Much luv” staring up at me. I had just gotten on the train I call the “tunnel of death”, that is, the subway. The reason for this is the autophobia and bit of claustrobia I have. Ok, perhaps there is more claustrophobia then I will admit. I am not sure at this point. However, I will just bet “dollars to donuts”, as grandmother used to say, that not many people will not double knot their shoelaces for fear of feeling trapped in their own shoes. There. I said it.

But I digress.

I take the subway to work. I sat down, and there written on the top edge of the seat in front of me where those words… “I think of you every day. Much luv.” The average person might not have even given it a second thought. But, dear reader, I am far from being the average person.

In a series of books called “True Life in God” God says that there are no co-incidences to Him. Now we can debate endlessly the legitimacy, or not, of the books. We can debate endlessly what about when bad things happen to good people (in fact there is even a book written with that very title). But let me pose a question. What if God doesn’t always speak to us through pillars of fire in a deep voice that sounds suspiciously like Charlton Heston? Perhaps this is not just a coincidence? Does this seem reasonable? Shingon Buddhist believe in the “voiceless voice” of God. At Medjugorgie Mother Mary tells us of God speaking to us in silence. St. Teresa of Avila and the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta speak of the same thing. So what if God speaks to us in other ways?

What gives me pause to consider this, on this day is not just the words above, but the context in which I viewed them.

Human beings are often creatures of guilt. We have all heard of people being given a “guilt trip” whether the person giving the guilt trip is a family member or a friend. When human being sin, we later come to God with a guilty conscience. We feel guilty. The fact of the matter is most people don’t have to wait for someone like satan to come along and make us feel guilty – we do just fine on our own.

Yes. I know. There are sometimes when there may be a reason to feel guilty.

But there are other times when it is merely a matter of not being able to forgive ourselves for being human. There are other times when we don’t even understand the concept of righteous anger.

“Righteous anger?”

You bet. Even Christ Himself threw the money lenders out of the temple – His Father’s House – and overturned their tables. He had every right to do so. Not just because of who he was, but because of what was going on. There are some things that just aren’t done. Disrespecting God is one of them. Do you think Jesus felt guilty for throwing out the money lenders? I can’t tell you. One day, if we are all lucky, we will get to ask Him.

Yes, the other side of the coin is that there are times when it is a darn good thing that we can feel guilty.

Consider Mother Mary – Christ’s mother.

Now at this point, if you are not Christian, just bear with me. If you are Christian you at least understand that Mary was Jesus’ mother. If you believe that Jesus was also God, as I do, you have an understanding of Mary as Mother of God. OK? Lets just leave it at that.

In the news we see people like Mel Gibson throwing around racial epithets aimed at Jews. He is far from being the only one. It is easy for people to forget, for those out there who may be anti-semitic, that Christ was a Jew. Mary was a Jew.

There is a game called “the dozens” For those of you who may not know it, it is a game where two people start insulting one another’s mother until the other one has no come back. Now – I told you that to tell you this –

Think about the above paragraph. How many times have you heard someone talk about “those damn jews” Not often out in the open any more. Bigotry isn’t as accepted, happily, as it once was. But it is still there my friends, it has just gone underground. It circulates through society like a nasty undercurrent, and one that, if it where anthropomorphically embodied would be just as mean as a snake. That is why we have people like Mel Gibson insulting Jews and people like Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer of “Seinfeld” fame) insulting African Americans in night clubs. Bigotry is still alive and well.

But the thing is this – remember – Christ is a Jew. His mother is a Jew. The apostles were all Jews. I don’t know about you my friends but playing “the dozens” with God’s mother seems a very, very dangerous thing to me.

Some things just aren’t done. That is one of them.

I told you that – to tell you this. This is one case where it is a darn good thing that there is such a thing as guilt

So whether we are guilty because we have something to feel guilty about, or we feel guilty just because human beings seem to enjoy feeling guilty think about this:

If you deserve to feel guilty, say a little prayer to God, whatever your concept. Also remember the words “I am sorry” go along way. Then forget about it. Don’t relive the guilt. If the other party can’t forgive you, at that point their hard heart is theirs to live with and that is their own lookout.

If you feel guilty because of righteous anger – such as the leader of your country killing people in another country because “God told Him to do it” Well in that case, the person upon which you have heap your anger for that issue had it coming. Offer a little prayer to God, to get it to stop. Then forget about it. Leave it in God’s hands.

If you are guilty just because you seem to enjoy feeling guilty. (see the above paragraph about asking for forgiveness). Well, first off – cut it the heck out. Do you enjoy feeling guilty? Do you “dig” on it? Is it “your thing?” No? Well allow yourself to be human. Once you have done one of the above FORGET ABOUT IT.

As human beings one of the saddest things is that, even if we ask God for forgiveness we seem to have a hard time forgiving ourselves. This is where God speaking to us in silence comes in.

We may be going through our day. We may feel like we have disappointed God (after all feeling guilty about something can be very, very contagious to those around you). Then we sit down on a train. And there, in our field of vision are the words from God.

“I think about you every day. Much luv. – God”

Friday, October 06, 2006

What goes around comes around

Every now and then Mother Superior and I go out to a movie together. It is rare that our schedules and duties allow us both to go anywhere at the same time. This time we went out to see a movie called "Idlewild". First, friends a small disclaimer - I may have lived a good deal of life in my time, but this does not mean I want to see it on the silver screen. Yes, there is a scene in the movie where I found myself saying, "Why do they always have to put the obligatory scene like that in the movie." I have often thought there should be disclaimers on movies that read something like, "Some scenes may not be appropriate for children and nuns".

What is important is a line from the movie. One of the main characters in the movie is a man named Rooster. One of the running themes in the movie is a whisky flask that never seems to be more than arms reach from Rooster. The front of the whiskey flask, which we see throughout the movie, has a picture of a rooster on it. This same rooster is animated. The upshot of which whiskey flask talks to Rooster giving him advice and comments.

At one of the crucial moments in the movie, the whiskey flask rooster talks to the human named rooster and says this:

"What goes around comes around Rooster - its called karma"

Rooster goes on in the movie to discover the truth of these words. I won't spoil the movie for you by telling you how.

But it brings up a point that Sister Frances and I talk about alot - what goes around comes around. In other words Karma.

Recently there has been a rash of key loggers going around the internet. For those of you who don't know what a key logger is - it is a rather vile little program that creates a record of the actual key strokes you make as you type on your computer and sends them over the internet to some unscrupulous person who uses the information to victimize you.

This prompted a comment from me this morning at breakfast, "Why do so many people dedicate such a larger portion of their lives to victimizing other people. How can they do so without thinking that there will never be any repurcussions?"

Yet people do this and in plenty. Recently a member of the House of Representatives the United States victimized his teens by sending the sexually explicit messages. The result is he ended up having to resign his position in congress.

The list of crimes and victims goes on and on. They cover an international scale to a personal scale. They crimes or simple wrongs may have been anonymous or done right out there in the open.

So often we see wrongs such as these and too often see no results of wrong doing. It may be someone at work. It may be someone we know. We may find ourselves saying, "Why don't they ever get punished for that?" The same person who wronged someone may later have some tragedy befall their lives; then look at the heavens and say "Why God? Why me?" If they listened to the still small voice within, they may hear God saying, "Remember that person you harmed last week?"

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to paint God as some hairy thunderer waiting to reek havoc upon the unsuspecting masses. On the other hand, recently Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham was interviewed on The Early Show By Jane Clayson. This is an excerpt from the interview:

Jane Clayson: I've heard people say, those who are religious, those who are not, if God is good, how could God let this happen? To that, you say?

Anne Graham Lotz: I say God is also angry when he sees something like this. I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we're sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life. We put our trust in you. We have our trust in God on our coins, we need to practice it.

She is right in that we cannot expect to call God in to save us when something goes wrong and yet tell Him to get out of our lives the rest of the year. If we harm someone on purpose, if we push God from our lives, then why should He protect us?

Think about it.

So no...the bad guys don't win. Karma is Karma, whether in this world or the next. Too many people don't believe in an afterlife until they are one step away from it. Grandmother, God rest her soul, used to say, "the world is full of old people trying to work their way into heaven." Yes, she said this because she was one of those people. To many people God, by whatever name, is a being "measured and far away" to use a phrase from Thoreau. St. Therese, our dear sister, felt God to be real, close and personal. He was not some historical personage.

I will leave you, this time with the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer, the author and motivational speaker. He had this to say about Karma:

"How people treat you is their Karma, how you react is yours" - Dr.Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hell in a Hand Basket

A section from our upcoming Podcast - "There Heretic Hour"

The section is called "Hell in a Hand basket":

(Music Bridge: “Start me up” by the Rolling Stones)

You can start me up
You can start me up
I'll never stop.
You can start me up
I've been running hot

You got me just about to blow my top.
You can start me up
you can start me up

I never stop
never stop
never stop
never stop.

(Music Bridge fades under)

Sister Julie: I can hear it now – my dear departed grandmother saying, “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” – and it is never true than it is today. This section is dedicated to those people who have lived in antithesis to all those individuals we feature in our “heretic of the week” section. This section is dedicated to those among us who have made much of the world what it is today – a miserable, wretched place filled with greedy, angry animals.

(cue sound bite – Tommy Lee Jones from “Men in Black”)
"A person is smart. People are dangerous, panicky, stupid animals and you know it."

Sister Julie: Yes, individually there are may people who have actually made the world a better place, even if it is only one life at a time. You know who you are, and God does too – the caretakers who change adult diapers for a living, the doctors who give up lucrative careers to work in third world countries destroyed by earthquakes. God, by whatever name sees all your deeds, and counts them great, even when you don’t.

But there are some people - that have distinguished themselves in the annuls of modern events. Who have, by their deeds, lifted themselves above the crowd, head and shoulders.

And today we have a tie –

Sister Frances: I opened the paper this morning at breakfast. There staring up at me from the Daily Herald for September 12, 2006 was the following:

“There are three kinds of people in this world: those who wouldn’t shoot you in the back for a million dollars, those who would, and those who would find someone to do it for them and split the money.”

What is sad, is not that this is true, for surely it is, but that it was listed under “Today’s Chuckle” While it may be true that there are people in the world today that would sell the grandmother for a nickel, the fact is hardly a “chuckle.”

President Bill Clinton left office in 2001 with a federal budget surplus of $127 billion. President George Bush ran a deficit of $319 billion in 2005.
Sister Julie: William Gale, who worked on the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush. has said, “Since taking office, Bush pushed through tax cuts totaling $1.85 trillion and raised government spending 23 percent in his first four years in office to $2.29 trillion.”

Sister Frances: We received this in the mail this week and I would like to read it to you:

A Japanese doctor says, "Medicine in my country is so
advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put
it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks."

A German doctor says, "That is nothing, we can take a lung
out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking
for work in four weeks."

British doctor says, "In my country, medicine is so
advanced that we can take half of a heart out of one
person, put it in another, and have them
both looking for work in two weeks."

The Texas doctor, not to be outdone, interjected
"You guys are way behind. We took a man with no brains
out of Texas, put him in the White House and now
half the country is looking for work."

Sister Julie and Sister Frances: So to George Bush for all that you do this tip o’ the veil is for you.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Heretic of the week

Heretic of the week:

Sister Julie: First let me read a quote to you by the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, winner of the Nobel Peace prize, founder of a religious order that cared for India’s poorest citizens:

"There is only one God, and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I've always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls - 30 families are Catholic and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs - all different religions. But they all come to our prayers."

Here is an e-mail I recently received by Dennis Momin who comments on the life and works of Mother Teresa. His letter starts, “Heretics you all are!!” and continues from there…

“If "Mother" Theresa has truly uttered those words that you
dorn on your front page sister (and which, I believe, greatly
reflects your ideals and organization) then the crucifix she
pinned on her shoulder was her greatest shame. All her life
long deeds of kindness and love was for the sake of humanty
than God and was not worth a child's day who died for
Christ.” – Dennis Momin

Yes, Dennis, in answer to your letter I am proud to say that our order is dedicated to the same hertical principles espoused by this most famous of heretics, a nun who devoted her life to God and who has been beatified by the Catholic Church. And so Dennis we have named this part of our podcast for your words and call it:

Sister Frances: [with emphasis] HERETIC OF THE WEEK!

Sister Julie: Each week we will be dedicating part of this podcast to people who dedicated their lives to the heretic principles of peace, harmony, unity and understanding. People who in some way, whether small or large, made the world a better place to live in. Keep in mind that God, by what ever name you may call Him, does not always call for deeds that stand out in the world’s eyes to be great…sometimes the smallest deeds of kindness can be great in God’s eyes.

Here with our first Heretic of the Week is Mother Frances:

Sister Frances: This weeks heretic was a rebel amongst rebel. You have seen Him over and over again in the news at every turn, with his long hair, scraggly beard and sandals – a real throwback to the hippies of the sixties.

He is a Jew and not only that He is a Rabbi.

Sister Julie: [shocked gasp of amazement] NO!

Sister Frances: Yes! Time magazine for June 21, 1971 describes Him as a:

- Notorious leader of an underground liberation movement
- Practicing medicine, winemaking and food distribution without a license.
- Interfering with businessmen in the temple.
- Associating with known criminals, radicals, subversives, prostitutes and street people.

In one of His famous public quotes He has said, “Do not think I have come to bring peace to the world, No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

He was sentenced to death by the civil authorities but remains at large. Yes my friends, He is the only man that women don’t mind sharing – you know Him, we love Him, Sister Julie and I want to be like Him – this week’s Heretic of the Week is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.

Sister Julie: In a future segment of Heretic of the Week we will feature one of His close followers – a man who dared to be both Christian and Jew, author of much of the New Testament – none other than the Apostle Paul Himself.

Sister Frances: Our pod-cast is about spirituality, yet with a tongue-in-cheek sort of humor. The basic idea is to call ourselves and all these various past "saints" and holy people "heretics", because most of them, if not all of them were thought of as heretics by one group or another during their lives. We are laughing AT the people who even make the call of "heretics" about other people. We are laughing at those who think themselves in some way better than the general population, better either because of social status, religious rank, or ego.

Sister Julie: My dear departed grandmother put it best when she said, “If you didn’t laugh, You’d cry.”

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Heretic Hour

Good morning, afternoon or evening friends (depending on when you are reading this). For those of you who aren't friends and seem to hate us, well God bless you anyway. While I finish the next part of "The Relentless Pessimist" I thought I would update you on one of our most recent projects. We have decided to enter the world of Podcasting. For those of you who may not know what a podcast is, it is simply a small audio (and sometimes video) show that is downloaded to computers and IPODs. Sort of like an internet radio show.

While I get many letters thanking us for our mission, I also get a few zingers. Some of the letters would wilt a steel rose. What put the idea for the title into my head was one of the zingers I received recently. So - as it is oft' said - without further ado, is a short script (a draft) of the opening of the first podcast, still in the works.

The Heretic Hour with Sister Julie and Sister Frances

(Show starts with an audio clip of the following)

Announcer: In the early years of the 16th century, to combat the rising tide of religious unorthodoxy, the Pope gave Cardinal Ximinez of Spain leave to move without let or hindrance throughout the land, in a reign of violence, terror and torture that makes a smashing film. This was the Spanish Inquisition...

Chapman: Trouble at mill.

Cleveland: Oh no - what kind of trouble?

Chapman: One on't cross beams gone owt askew on treadle.

Cleveland: Pardon?

Chapman: One on't cross beams gone owt askew on treadle.

Cleveland: I don't understand what you're saying.

Chapman: [slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent] One of the cross beams has gone out askew on the treadle.

Cleveland: Well what on earth does that mean?

Chapman: *I* don't know - Mr Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.


[The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain [Palin] enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Biggles [Jones] has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fang [Gilliam] is just Cardinal Fang]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...(Audio clip fades out)

Mother Frances: "It is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.” Harsh words? Radical? Heretical?

You would think not. Nations have been founded on that principle – including this one. Yet that is the very belief in harmony and equality for which we have been called heretics. The quote is from a particularly radical and heretical person – Mother Teresa of Calcutta - a nun who won the Nobel peace prize for her work helping some of the poorest people in the world.

(Bridge: From “smooth” by Carlos Santana)

And if you said
This life ain't good enough
I would give My world to lift you up
I could change my life
To better suit your mood…

Sister Julie: People expect us to change to suit their moods. When people hear the word nun they usually see a see a mental image of one or two things. Either a woman in a penguin suit wielding a ruler as if it were a machete – some belligerent biddy whose face would crack if it ever smiled or…

Mother Frances: …a woman who is serenity incarnate, who usually wears a halo for a hat.

Sister Julie: I am sister Julie

Mother Frances: and I am Mother Frances.

Sister Julie: - and reality, is often much different. Instead of a halo I wear an IPOD. My world extends beyond the walls of the convent, even when that world is a virtual one – the global community, that makes its second home on the internet.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Relentless Pessimist

(The following is an excerpt from my book “Congratulations your baby is a boy and a girl”)

The relentless pessimist…and the way out

Those of you who know me, or have read the rest of my book, know that over the years I have tended toward being a bit pessimistic. In fact, tended is not the word – Mother Frances once called me a “relentless pessimist” There is an old adage that says one of the definitions of insanity is to repeat the same action and expect a different outcome. Scenes such as the following have played themselves out throughout my entire life.

Spouse: (with a reassuring hand on my arm) “I will always be there for you.”

Me: (with a worried look) “Always?”

Spouse: (smiling) “Yes – always.”

Result? The very next day, the next afternoon in fact – less than 24 hours later – I came home to find a “Dear Jane” note. The person who left me for another woman not only waited until I was gone, but on the way out stole my dog. Thus enacting the now famous adage (which I did not originate):

“My spouse left me and stole my dog – I miss the dog.”

To make matters worse, at least for the dog, is that the same person who stole my dog didn’t even take with their own. Poor Ralph. Ralph had his buddy Winston, my dog, stolen from him as well and was at the same time abandoned by the same person who had abandoned me. So there we were. Quite a pair. Ralph and I (pictured above) both abandoned by the same person.

With the chapters of my life filled out with pages such as these is it any wonder that I eventually became a “The glass is not only half full, but the other half is full of toxic waste” sort of person (I did coin that expression – in fact I have lived it).

All your dreams come true…

Those of you who have seen the original “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with Gene Wilder in the title roll will remember the following scene. At the end of the movie, Gene Wilder’s character looks at Charlie, to whom he has just given his chocolate factory. He looks very concerned as he admonishes Charlie with the following words:

“Charlie do you know what happened to the little boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted?”

To this Charlie gives a very worried reply, “No what?”

“He lived happily ever after,” says the Gene Wilder character with a big smile.

At that point Charlie goes on to live happily ever after. Me? There was a time I would probably have looked the person who had just given me a chocolate factory straight in the eye and yelled, “YOUR LIEING”

Even after I began to live “happily ever after” I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. After all, why not? In my case the other shoe had always dropped.

If You’re happy and you know it…

There is a song I remember from my childhood that has a line in it that has always stuck out in my mind…

“If you are happy and you know it clap your hands!”

In my case that would have been the sound of one hand clapping. Why? I will tell you why. After all the pain, after all the misery in my life, there reached a time when God reached down his mighty hand and touched my life. He made my life happy.

So what was the problem?

The problem was that I was happy and I didn’t know it.

How can you be happy and not know it? You can reach the point in your life where pessimism becomes self-fulfilling. Yes, when I walk down the street I typically get what I have come to call “the look” What is “the look?” It is when someone not just glances at me, as all people glance at each other when they are on a train or walking down a street. It is when they stare at me and their head looks up and down my body as if to say “does that nun really have a dead baby hanging out of her mouth” Priceless. I have seen that look over and over again.

But how does that make you a relentless pessimist?

I am glad you asked. It is not “the look” itself that makes one a pessimist. It is the frequency. It happens so often that I come to expect it, whether or not it is really there. I forget the person who follows right after the person with “the look” and smiles at me. I forget the person in my office who smiles and says “good morning sister” and remember the person who refuses to get on an elevator with me. Or at least I used to. Does this mean “the look” happens less often than I think it does?


What puts the “P” in pessimist?

Here is an example. The sad truth about Christianity today is that in many cases Christians make the worst Christians.

Okay, how many people just thought “Huh?”

Look at it this way – Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” What he meant is that democracy may not be the best form of government but it is the best of the worst. Christians can often be the same way, the best of a bad bunch of people. The world is full of people who would sell their grandmother for a nickel. One only has to pick up the average newspaper to realize that. Better a Christian who doesn’t live their faith than someone who has no faith in anything but greed and ignorance. In other words…

Christianity is great if it wasn’t for the average Christian.

“Wait a minute,” you say, “Did I just hear a nun say that?”

Yes you did. You heard God’s little dipstick say that and I am not alone. If you go to church ask yourself “why?” Do you go because you want to? Of do you go because you feel you have to? Do you go because your parents taught you it is the thing to do? Or do you go because you are afraid of what will happen if you don’t?

The churches I have been to are full of people who give me “the look” and worse. There was a time recently when I went up for communion and for a moment the woman who was passing out communion was not going to give me the host because of the way I look. Based on nothing other than her disapproval of my physical appearance. Those of you who have read the rest of my book also know about the church I attended where I was told that they didn’t want “people like me” passing out communion. No. Not pretty, educated well mannered people. They meant people who had once been both genders and looked it.

The big butt (no not mine)…

But that same church also had a woman who attended it (and still does) who is a dear friend. Emma is an 93 year old Irish woman who is the living embodiment of “Mrs. Doubtfire” from the movie of the same name. Emma recently told Mother Superior that every time she goes into the church and sees the woman on the church staff who told me that I was not wanted as a minister of care to pass out communion to the sick, that she thinks of what was done to me. Emma is a woman who is a living saint if ever there was one. Ask anyone who knows her.

But Emma and the people who give me “the look”, the people who refuse to shake my hand, who refuse to talk with me – all those people go to the same church as Emma. It is easy, far too easy, to reach the point in your life where you forget about the people like Emma and remember all the people who are the “bad apples in the barrel” so to speak.

So what is the way out of being a relentless pessimist? The solution can be different for different people. For me, the solution was to find out that I was happy – and know it. How did that happen? How did I find out I was happy? Well my friends, in my case that required a brick up along side the head.

And that is the subject of the next blog…

© 2006 Juliemarie Whitefeather. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Good Grief!

Good Grief

Everyone who has ever read peanuts has met “good old Charlie brown” and everyone who has ever met the overwrought Charlie Brown has heard him utter the now immortal phrase – “good grief”

Yet stop and think about this phrase for a moment.

Good Grief

Can our grief be good? I don’t ever remember seeing Charlie Brown say this phrase with a happy smile on his face.

Followers of the old television show “Night Gallery” often hear Rod Serling present each show using the phrase – “We offer for your consideration.”

And so…

I offer for your consideration the life of a woman that to many would seem a nightmare in every waking moment – the life of Blessed Saint Margaret of Costello.

“Yes sister,” I hear you ask, “but what has the life of a short Italian woman who has been dead for over 900 years got to do with anything?”

That, my dear friends, is easy to answer. This was a woman born into a wealthy noble Italian family. Normally she might have lived in the lap of luxury as it is said. But God blessed her – she did not.

“How is it then,” you ask, “that she was ‘blessed’ by missing out on the easy life?”

Margaret was born a midget, lame, a hunchback, and blind. All this features where matched by her lack of good looks. She spent the first thirteen years of her life imprisoned by her own parents so they could hide her away from the world so they would not have to be ashamed of their daughter. The last of those thirteen years she was forced to live in a prison in a catacomb. When finally God refused to take away all this from their daughter so her parents would no longer have to feel shame, they abandoned her, blind, and alone, on the church steps of Costello, Italy (and hence Margaret of Costello).

She may not have been a ‘looker’ as they say, but, oh my friends, she had a beautiful soul. She had a wondrous, glorious soul. Even if you discount the time she is said to have levitated 20 inches off the floor of a Costello prison Cell while praying for a prisoner; even if you discount the time, after hear death, after an autopsy where three pearls where found in her heart when it was cut open. Even if you discount that…

After her death, at her funeral, in front of a church full of people, including witnesses from the Vatican, she moved her arm and healed a young girl.

Over 900 years later her body has not decayed. Long after all those who abused her have turned to dust, her body just looks like it has a really, really good tan. She is an incorrupt. Other saints that where so holy that God has kept their bodies from decaying in death include Saint Bernadette Soubiros who looks better more than 100 years after her death, then I do now when I am alive.

Yes, my friends, Margaret had a life that was the living embodiment of the phrase, “life is a bitch and then you die.” Yet was she filled with anguish and hate for the way she was born and the way she was treated? Not a bit of it. When she originally came to Costello, Italy, forced into the life of a blind beggar, she was despised by everyone she met. Yet she walked down the street with a smile on her face.

By the time she died?

By the time she died she was universally loved by everyone in Costello, Italy. Do you know the phrase used in high school when it comes to “girls” like me? They say, ‘but she has a great personality’. Well, my friends, when it comes to having a great personality, Margaret was the proverbial ‘IT’ She is the one for whom the expression was originated.

She spent the later years of her life as a nun. One day one of her sisters came to her in despair. It seems the sister had just found out that she was going blind. Now, mind you, as we have said, Margaret was born blind. So at this point it was very much a case of preaching to the choir.

At first Margaret admonished the sister to accept Gods gift. Margaret was no stranger to suffering. She was, in fact, well acquainted with the concept of redemptive suffering. That is, suffering for the sake of others – as did our dear Lord, Jesus. This is suffering for Christ. In other words – ‘good grief’.

The sister was incredulous that Margaret could view blindness as a gift from God. In the end, Margaret healed the sister of her blindness.

To most people, myself included, Margaret of Costello was one of those rare individuals who set the pole so incredibly high that few people would be able to jump the spiritual hurdle.

There are some of us, such as myself, that God has blessed with being the target of more than the usual amount of bigotry and hatred. The world is full of people who are full of themselves; people who have a set view of the world and how it – and everyone in it – must be. When someone, such as myself, born a hermaphrodite, doesn’t fit into that view of the world, they insist on telling others so. Most often they do so loudly and long. It may be a matter of a total stranger telling me “you need to have a dick shoved up your ass.” It may be a co-worker who screams “I am not going to use the bathroom with that THING”. It may be something as subtle as a co-worker who refuses to ride an elevator that has me on it. I have had a lifetime of such treatment.

Yet, you may ask yourselves at this point how one endures such grief and even consider it “good”? I will tell you, it isn’t easy; especially when it is going on – and continues to go on, on a daily basis. There is a darn good reason why many people born such as I was kill themselves.

So how does one endure such grief? How does it become good grief?

As granddad used to say, “It is hard to remember that your original intent was to drain the swamp when you are up to your ass in alligators” – or in this case, bigots.

It is also something else. It is the subject of my next blog.

© 2006 Sisters of Embracement. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 21, 2006

God's Little Dipstick

“Blazing Saddles,” I said.

“Oh what was the name of the movie with Clevon Little in it? The one where he played a sheriff?”

The second voice came from Bernie, a co-worker who, to this day, will not speak to me nor even ride an elevator with me. I once held a door for Bernie, as he was about to walk through it. Rather than walking through the open doorway, he stopped and stood facing the wall next to the door – nose to the wallpaper.

This time I answered Bernie’s question even louder.

“Blazing Saddles! The name of the movie is Blazing Saddles!”

At this point I could have been heard in the next county let alone the next cubicle , or by Bernie who is not hard of hearing. Still Bernie’s questioning continued unabated, blatantly ignoring my response.

“It had Mel Brooks in it,” Bernie asked the woman who sits in the cubicle behind mine, “What was the name of that movie?”

At this point I came to the conclusion that one of two things have happened. First possibility – The laws of physics have suddenly and inexplicably become suspended and sound will no longer carry more than three inches from my lips.

Second possibility – and this one far more likely – Bernie, like so many other of my co-workers has come to consider me with such disdain that they are aghast that I have had the effrontery to exist. In other words…

Nun non-grata

Scenes such as the one able have repeated themselves throughout my entire life. They play themselves over and over again as people pass through my life. I have had a lifetime of watching people laughing amongst themselves only to see the smile rapidly run away from their face when they see me. Yet this are amongst the “kinder, gentler” moments I endure. There have been times, such as when a female co-worker, headed for the ladies room herself, saw me walk in to it first. She took the opportunity to yell after me, “I am not going in their with that THING!” Interestingly enough, to this day she considers herself a “good Christian woman.” Even passers by in the street have taken time from their busy day to heap abuse upon me as I pass. One fine sunny day, not long ago I was walking down the street near my office. I passed a man, as is often the case in larger cities, seeking alms for the poor, among whose ranks he placed himself. I doubted the man’s sincerity in this case, not because of the look on his face, but rather by the look of the suite he wore, which would easily have cost upwards of $300.00. I did not turn a deaf ear on him, as so many others did around him. Instead I spoke with him as I passed and he started walking next to me down the street. When he realized he wasn’t going to get money from me, where he at first addressed me politely as sister, he now shouted at me “You’re really a man aren’t you! You need to have a dick shoved up your ass!”

Welcome to one of my average days.

What have I done, you may ask yourself, to warrant such treatment? Have I committed some heinous crime? Do I kick babies as a hobby? Do I advocate the overturn of the United States by force of arms? No…

I have had the simple fortune of having been born both genders. In more proper terms, a hermaphrodite. Unlike some of the others like me in the country (and there are more than the average person realizes) I had the chance to decide for myself “which gender” later in life.

Wait a minute. Think back. Re-read the last paragraph. Did I say “misfortune” or “fortune”? That’s right. I said I had the FORTUNE to be born a hermaphrodite. Why? Think of the quote by Marshall Mcluhan in the footer - "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” Being born as I was has given me the opportunity to gain insights and understanding that most people will never have, nor even understand. Still you may ask yourself, how does this make me fortunate? Why would anyone want to suffer so on a daily basis?

Well, “Want” has nothing to do with it.

Why would I welcome such abuse? I don’t always. But as grandmother used to say, “It’s like hitting yourself in the head with a rock. You can get used to anything if you do it long enough.” Still of what benefit can such abuse be? For the answer to that. You will have to read my next blog.

Sister Julie.

© 2006 Sisters of Embracement. All Rights Reserved.