Friday, July 29, 2005

Confessions of a somewhat pagan nun

Up earlier than usual today… in time to light the icon candles, ring the meditation bell. Usually another Sister does this, but she's away for a few days. I've never been a morning person by choice, yet I've often signed on for activities that required early rising. (go figure) Sometimes I don't even wake up until the warning bell rings. Sometimes I meditate in my jammies, with my eyes closed. I rationalize that "sleep is perfect prayer" which it is, but it doesn't excuse my lack of discipline.

I'll be moving to our other convent in a few weeks. And I will miss the Sisters who live in the city. Never thought I would quite this much, but they've grown on me. We humans do that—grow on each other. I feel a bit like a plant that's been grafted. We came from different stock, different backgrounds, with different ideas about how life should be lived. About the only thing we had in common was the desire to serve God in this particular way, to live this life. I was the sapling grafted to the ancient roots. The old and the new gain nourishment from each other, the mutual benefits of our strengths and weaknesses… we call it relationship.

Relationship is a fundamental principle of this life in Christ. You don't have to do it alone and you don't GET to do it alone. Christianity is not so much about prayer and devotion, worship and communion with God, although those elements are present, as it is about our interactions with each other… our deeper acceptance that if one fails, the whole lot will fail. I cannot get to heaven on my own merits. I cannot get to heaven because Christ died for my particular sins. His life and death were a personal example from God: Yo! This is what my kingdom looks like, stands for, will be. Sharing what you have with who needs it, not asking first "Are they worth it? Will they thank me?" Worthiness and payback are not valid criteria in the kingdom of heaven. (No wonder we killed Him.)

But we distort that message to suit our needs all the time. It's so damn hard, for one thing. We set conditions. We ask: "Do you believe In Jesus Christ? If you do, then maybe I'll work with you."

Belief is important. Faith is important. Judging someone else's capacity for either is not. Not our job. Our job is to love God. And our neighbor. Period. And since it's almost impossible to do that, we make the job more palatable by making rules, enforcing restrictions and limitations, joining clubs to be with the inside crowd. We keep forgetting that if we're not all on the inside, then we're all still on the outside.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Universal Truths

This blogging thing is getting tiresome already. Besides, the book I'm reading says the more you know, the less you say. If that's true then we have a globe full of the uninformed populating our planet. Just hit "next blog" a few times to get the picture.

I do know it's true, though. I visited a friend recently who was upset and worried about another friend. She wanted so much to help, to get that person's life in order so her surroundings would be comfortable and safe. But the friend was balking at her sensible suggestions… taking her sweet time deciding the next move. Frustrating to have answers nobody wants to hear.

I, myself, rattled on about a lot of things I didn't know. To make conversation, to be supportive. The one or two things I did know I kept quiet about. Why? Because they were the kind of things you have to come up with on your own, in your own time. Out loud they sound thin, trite, empty platitudes. Why bother to speak something that really has to be experienced? Things like: You can't change anybody except yourself. It's one of the basic and universal truths. Yet it sounds like bull---- out loud. Bull---- but true. Complicated, simple, complex, basic, individual, universal— it's all there, woven on the looms of our lives. Continually weaving as we go. Usually I'm too close to the threads to see the patterns. It's why all the smart ones say "step back… detach… observe." Only then will the pattern make sense.

And obviously I'm still in the dumber-than-dirt category… I'm still writing.

Monday, July 25, 2005

"waste not, want not"?

Speaking of wasted potential… I was, wasn't I? I've been rethinking. I rethink a lot. (Maybe it's a pastime of the aged, to rethink everything somebody once said was THE gospel truth.) Who were they? Who told them? What did they know that I don't? What do I know that they didn't? Could be they were wrong. So considering all the waste of my life: wasted money, wasted energy, wasted time, wasted potential… oh God! what a waste. (Come to think of it rethinking could be a waste.)

But… it seems to me now, that waste, in all its unrealized glory, is such a necessary part of God's creation. Waste is the bittersweet underbelly of the successes of life. For every silver lining there were twenty clouds that didn't make the cut. Twenty clouds that rained on our parades. We are a species that understands by comparing. Not that it gets us anywhere most of the time, but it's what we do. I'll bet my last $5 it's a piece of the story from the of the garden of Eden. Good vs evil, pain vs pleasure, dark vs light… we compare, we judge, we think we get it.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Out of order

Our Order usually gets up early for meditation and morning prayer. But it's Summer and Saturday and Sister decided we'd have a "rest morning" today. A free morning—how rare and delightful that is.

I wake up early anyway, wallowing in the awareness that I can do whatever I like… snuggle down and drift back to sleep (did that twice already) or get up anyway and write down my thoughts (doing that now) or sneak down to the kitchen and unload the dishwasher, make the coffee (even though it's someone else's turn) any combination of ordinary things done out of order. That's what makes them special. Obviously I'm easily entertained. Now if only someone else would get up… I'd have somebody to play with.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bell Curve

It's all my daughter-in-law's fault. What was I thinking?! Certainly not about fame. My brief brushes with that anomaly have been painful, embarrassing. Fame is as bad as anonymity, two extremes on the imaginary bell curve of life. "Does the professor grade on a curve?" That's what we asked in college. because if he did, I could relax. I was always going to fall somewhere on the brighter side of middle. But if not, whoa! Might actually have to study for that one. Might actually have to study? How much potential did I waste in never studying more than was necessary? Then it was called laziness. now it's called ordering your priorities. Who are we kidding? Only ourselves. At this rate we'll never evolve to a higher species.

My daughter-in-law tagged me. I have no idea what that means. Okay CG, you're it. (That's the only way I know how to play tag.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Glimpses of Heaven

If I could visually portray all the glimpses of heaven I've been able to recognize in my lifetime—they would weave a circular tapestry of such subtle color and music that you'd need a magnifying glass to peer at the delicate beauty. These glimpses of recognition have been just that: instantaneous moments that came and went. Filled me with awe and were gone.

Art, music, service, not always in that order, are ways I can connect to the God of our universe—the ways I sing my personal song of praise and thanksgiving for physical life and mental acuity… for blessings and trials. It's all mushed together. Some days I'm even arrogant enough to think I understand it.