Thursday, January 11, 2007
One of the perks of being a nun is never having a bad hair day. It's just one of those things I never have to think about for one second which gives me more time to pray for sinners (other than myself...I'm hoping the sinners I'm praying for are praying for me or I'm really going be in the soup).
Suddenly, Sister St. Aloysius wants me to cut her hair. She wants to save the $6 from Fantastic Sam's or Sam's Club or wherever she has been going. She does the short veil thing with those little bangs. Nun bangs.
Here's a hot tip for all those Catholics out there who are disconcerted that clerics and religious don't always dress in a recognizable cleric or religious outfit for you. I suspect, from conversations I've had with such people, that the real issue is that they might be speaking to a member of the clergy, etc. and not realize it and say something or do something untoward. To them I say, behave yourself all the time and you won't have to worry about it. God and his army will thank you.
That wasn't the hot tip yet. That was some friendly advice.
I get a little cranky with all this judgment about what nuns wear. I wear the old habit, myself. In some way, it is a fashion choice, that is, a choice so I never have to think about fashion, my hair, do I have a clean blouse? , etc.
But I certainly don't begrudge nuns who are not in a full habit.
The original nuns were dressed like the people around them, only in the matching colors of their order. All women were all covered up and wore veils and head wrappings. The wimple was common in biblical times and popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. Nuns adopted the style at that time to make them inconspicuous in the world. Nuns who worked out in the world were not trying to separate themselves from other people, they were in fact trying to blend in, but they wore a uniform, so to speak. They just never ever updated the uniform.
Here is a painting of a typical English noblewoman....now just imagine her in black and white. Or brown and white with a brown scapular. Voila! She's suited up and ready to serve.
In fact, take a look at this medieval servant.
Not a nun. Just a serving wench. If she were transported by time to the present everyone would think she was a nun.
Demanding that nun wear a full habit is demanding that nuns remain stuck in time. Demanding that nuns wear a full habit is like asking a member of the military to wear a uniform from the Hundred Years War, or a nurse to dress like Florence Nightingale. Remember her? She, and all nurses, wore veils. I don't hear anyone fussing that nurses should be wearing veils.
Here's the hot tip: How to Spot a Nun.
1. Nun bangs.
2.Bad looking flat shoes from Payless or Sears.
If the nun is old she may look slightly disheveled after years of wearing a habit and suddenly having to worry about tucking in her blouse all day. In fact, I can't think of a time when speaking to an old nun in 'modern' garb (her denim shift from 1978) that I didn't notice something that I wanted to reach out and fix. I remember following a nun in a shift type thing all around her amazing homeless shelter. She feeds 700 people per day! Her top button on the back was undone. I really wanted to fix it for her.
I don't think I have any business cutting Sister St. Aloysius' hair. I think I'll make a botch of it. The good news is that, as a nun, she won't care. It's a win/win for her. If I actually pull it off, she looks decent. If it turns out I'm terrible at it and she ends up looking like Albert Einstein, she can practice humility, even more than usual. That's why nuns cut off their hair in the first place, after all. The more things change, the more they remain the same.