Friday, May 12, 2006

No comparisons

I remember when I first started coming to the convent for Madeleine L'Engle's writing workshops. I'd ring the doorbell and wait... and wait... and from somewhere deep inside the bowels of the cloister a disembodied voice would answer "Yes?"
"I'm here for Madeleine's workshop."
"I'll be right there."

Eventually a sister dressed in black would come to the door and usher me up the two flights of stairs to the chapel. Her skirts would swish as we ascended the staircase, no talking, all very hush hush. The place was so quiet but the stairs creaked. I felt myself trying to climb and tiptoe at the same time.

If I were early, there was time to meditate or pray briefly. The pews creaked too. Shhhh! I thought to myself as I tried to maneuver from seat to kneeler and back again. Then Vespers would begin and I was awash in the medieval chant of the psalms. We would try to sing along, but the tones and the endings kept changing, and the guests didn't have pointed music, only the prayer book to refer to... Some of the women (who thought they knew the music) bellowed it out and their mistakes were obvious. There was a welcome card at each seat that said to sing softly. Guess they didn't read that part. I sang softly. I felt very right about that, very superior.

Later, when I was a nun myself, and had the music to refer to, I would alternate between annoyance and amusement at more guests who tried to sing along. I came to appreciate how much courage it took to risk getting it wrong, how I had not had that courage.

Somewhere in the past three years of my candidacy, I've had a conversion, much like St. Paul's... in that the scales have fallen from my eyes. It's been gradual and sometimes painful, but I've reached a point where I do realize that comparison is an illusion created by something other than God. God does not compare us in judging us, if He even judges us at all. As every snowflake is unique, so is every single piece of creation. We are unique.

Perhaps the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not forbidden because God wanted to test our capacity for obedience. Perhaps it was forbidden because it was useless information that would only create a stumbling block to our growth with and in our Creator. There's no comparisons, no right way to do it, no perfect path to Wisdom.

5 comments:

Pilot Mom said...

"...reached a point where I do realize that comparison is an illusion created by something other than God." Oh, that ugly thing we call pride sure pops up it's ugly head all too often, doesn't it?

Praise Him that we, as Christians, will not be judged for our sins! Praise Him alone for the blood of the Cross!

kpjara said...

I love embracing our uniqueness, even if it's sometimes uncomfortable, like hugging a distant relative.

Addie said...

interesting post, CJ...

Cat. said...

WOW! Sublime. I'm quoting you over at my place.

Thanks.

ACey said...

I can't think of anything finer than a writer's workshop with MLE unless it was one with P L Travers ...