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.”

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