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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It's that time of year again. We have yet to find Amelia Earhart or Jimmy Hoffa, but this might be the year we unearth both of them in our garden.  I can't think why, every single year, we find ourselves entangled in thorns and vines, but we do.

We don't completely neglect our garden.  It doesn't rain much here, so we do water it. Sometimes.  Miraculously, most everything survives.  You know I don't just toss the word "miraculous" around.  Miracles are instantaneous and unexplained.  So, our garden is half miraculous, if that is possible.  It's not instantaneous, but the fact that everything is alive and not shriveled sticks calling out to St. Rita is certainly unexplained.

Why isn't St. Rita the patron saint of people with green thumbs?  I digress.

Watering is about all we have time for.  I was compelled to start writing this blog because I thought it would be of interest for people to understand what often happens to people with a calling these days. Three of us live in this little house. I have a salary and we live on that.  As a result, in many ways, my life here is just like your life. I have to navigate the same world in largely the same way as you do.

What is the calling of a nun?  It's really very simple. My job is to get myself to Heaven and to drag you with me.  It's like when you are on an airplane and the stewardess explains that should that oxygen contraption drop, you should put it on your own face before you try to get it over your child.  It seems counter intuitive, but the truth is, if you pass out while you're fumbling around there, everyone's in trouble.

That's really not all that different from what Jesus is asking of you, either.  The difference is that it's all we do.  I remember listening to a man give a lecture about composers.  He was telling composers that they should not worry about whether or not someone would actually be able to play what they had written, because there were people in the world who would be able to play it no matter what because "that's all they do", meaning, there were pianists who spend all day every day doing nothing but playing the piano and it would be their job to figure out how in the world to play the composition.

Because that's all they do.

Is this my excuse for my messy garden?  No, it is not.

I turn once again to my original intention in taking up the blog, and confess that, I can't keep up with everything.  I do keep up with almost everything.  The garden is on the receiving end of my failure.

I also like to talk about it a little because it illustrates another point of which people are not aware.  Some nuns are messy.  I think people have this illusion that all nuns are neat little people with very clean finger nails, tidy and composed, organized and collated.

That's not untrue.  But it's not because all nuns are orderly and well groomed.  It has more to do with not having much in the first place in the way of clothing and clutter and with the early nun training in obedience and scheduling.

The garden has simply dropped off our schedule.  Back on it goes.  It's worse than ever this year. A great opportunity for suffering, lacerations, sweating and dirty fingernails.

While we're out there, offer a little prayer for that nun you had who always looked a little askew, with her wimple a little crooked or a wisp of hair that would never stay under her habit giving away that she was a redhead.  She had an especially hard road with her calling.


Shannon B. said...

Happy Solemnity of the Ascension, Sister!

I really loved this blog post, and I want to thank you for pointing out that nuns sometimes aren't what people make them out to be. As a former nun, I can honestly say that we(still "community" minded)usually don't fit into everyone's neat little boxes:) And that's wonderful.

Jane said...

Sister, Can you reply right here to my question...Do you have a St Maurice medal on your Etsy site? Or someone else for menstrual cramps and female troubles? It isn't fertility; it isn't cancer; it's just very bad periods each month. Thank you.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Dear Jane,

I don't have a St. Maurice medal. But I can make a glass pendant out of any saint you'd like. Hope that helps!

Sister Mary Martha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mintavia said...

I simply must know about the painting of the nun in the rocker...there has to be a great story to that!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,
I fell away from the Church when I married my husband who had been married before and whose wife was still living. We have a grown daughter raised Episcopalian. My husband left me for another person a few years ago. If I want to return to the Church, what is my status? My Episcopal priest says I must take my husband back if he wants to come (he does), even though he is not sorry about the affair and does not promise fidelity for the future. I find this all almost impossible to untangle, and would appreciate your ideas. I know this is a question of mop up after the horse has left the stable.
Thanks, Sister.

Anonymous said...

Dear Confused,

Yours is not the most tangled case, so take heart in that. Your first step, if you want to return to the Catholic church, is to ask the Catholic priest and not the Episcopal minister. The Episcopal minister, however wonderful he or she may be, may not know (and we would hardly expect that they know) all the intricate ins and outs of Catholic canon law regarding marriage. You can read about another tangle (and our Lord's response to it) in the gospel of St. John, chapter 4. Jesus offered the woman Living Water. He offers that same water to you!

Maria said...

But in short, if your husband was validly married to his earlier wife, then, since she was still living, he was never validly married to you. And if he never did intend fidelity, he was never validly married to you anyway. So obviously you'd have to go to confession, but I doubt you'd have to take him back. Obviously you're still going to have to discuss this with a priest.