Well, much like this show busts and confirms the proposed truths of Hollywood, I hope that this year and this experience of writing allows me the space to confirm the truths and bust the myths of religious life. Let's call it Faith-busters!
Tonight's episode I will share with you the image of religious life held by (I would estimate) MANY of this country's population. What is a nun? She is most likely wearing a habit, carrying around a ruler and clicker, she probably never smiles, and when she's not in school teaching children, she's in the convent praying. Well, maybe not EVERYONE has this view, but some variation of it I'm sure creeps into the minds of most.
First off, a "nun" is typically cloistered and therefore would not be seen walking around let alone teaching . . . but as most use the word "nun" and "religious sister" interchangeably I will continue by sharing that this "MYTH" is BUSTED!
What I can confirm this evening is that a convent is not just about praying 24-7. In fact while washing and drying the dishes tonight my convent erupted with laughter as we took our dish towels, twirled them between our hands and swung at each other! Like children horsing around while their parent looked the other way we went at each other through laughter and playful banter. I suppose it would be important to share that this digression into childhood came from our dinner conversation in which we all shared stories about ourselves as rebellious and ditsy teens. Those things that we probably shouldn't be too proud of, and in reality should never have done, but boy don't they make great stories now?!
When I tell people that we pray together as a community most mornings at 6:30 I am met with questions concerning our lives. Is that all we do? Pray? The reality is that's not all that there is, in fact I believe that prayer leads us to everything else. Firm foundations in faith bring us to places of confidence that give us the freedom to be silly! Making prayer the center of our lives without it being the only thing that encompasses our lives leads us into deeper relationship with Christ. So, by no means do I wish to discount the importance of prayer but what I would ABSOLUTELY like to emphasize is that playful banter can also bring us great understanding of God in our world. After all, I think Jesus was a funny dude, we just miss it in the historical context of scripture.
So, religious sisters sitting alone all day praying is BUSTED by Faith-Busters! In place I wish to leave you all with this image, the image of the family. Living in a convent is much like living in a family . . . you have your responsibilities within the household: your nights to cook dinner, your chores, your days to lead prayers, etc. But along with those responsibilities also comes the fun things that keep you connected as a unit!
So please, take that decrepid image of "NUN" out of your head and replace it with the reality of living a life devoted to following God's will! I'll tell you, from what I have experienced from a number of the older sisters in the community, it's well worth it!