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)”

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