About Sr. Nun Other

May 16, 2012, completed my 30th year as a Sister. It was both a milestone and just another day in an interesting journey. Some of those thirty years included singing with Gloriae Dei Cantores, marching in Spirit of America band, and serving on our Sisters Council. As a monastic, I live surrounded by beauty and within a frame work of opportunity and possibility. I'm sixty-four (much to my surprise) and extremely grateful for my life as a sister - past, present, and future.

The Paradox of Age

I was a Girl Scout once, and a pretty good one. I especially took to heart the Scouts’ long-standing motto, Be Prepared. You see, I was – am – an introvert with a busy inner life (code for obsessive worrier) and being prepared for everything seemed like great advice. Be Prepared worked well for me until I approached seventy. Nothing could prepare me for seventy and a straight-up calculation of remaining years, creaking knees, and escaping memories. I function much better when I grab pen and paper to categorize my musings. Here are my loosely poetic thoughts on growing older:

Creation. God’s intention.
Every leaf, every star.
Everything was made to be
With purpose and effect.
No accident, me, as I am
As I shall become,
When age reconfigures
My original composition.
Lower energy,
Increased wisdom.
Eyes that see less clearly,
And yet more clearly
At the same time.
Accept what I must.
Change what I can.
Make a strong finish,
With love and joy.

The Whole Truth and Nothing But

I’m convinced that the most difficult question one can be asked is, “How are you?”

“Who me?  How am I?” I freeze.  I mind-stumble over words and can’t speak.  I ponder—perplexed and suspicious of an ulterior motive. Why? I have no idea. I mentally sub-divide this one question into three of my own: Do I lie? Do I care? Do I even know? Moment of truth: the one with an ulterior motive is me — my aim is to please the asker.  Should I be fine? Have a problem? Or maybe they’d be relieved with a simple “okay.” They do, after all, need to move on with life.

The situation escalates in importance.  I search for truth like a bloodhound who knows he buried a raw-hide bone somewhere.  Sounds crazy, I know, but this is my process. I’m caught in a self-made trap of how I wish to be perceived (generous, earnest, grateful, serene). I want to at least portray a person who’s really trying. Finally, I reach out in sympathy to the caring person who asked. I speak. “How are you?” I ask.

Perhaps – A Good Friday Meditation on Darkness and Light

As we approach the ultimate darkness, a day we call Good Friday, I find myself reflecting on why that’s so. Perhaps God’s mystery is revealed in darkness. In Genesis 1:2,3, we’re told the world was void and darkness covered the earth. And God said, “Let there be light. And there was light.” Just like that.

When alone and afraid, I run through darkness. Perhaps I should embrace it. Perhaps.  For hidden within its shapeless shape, is a pin point of light that beckons. It twirls like a ballerina, full of grace; etches a sunrise; reveals a presence of goodness that truly never left us. As a fresh canvas waits for its artist or a night sky its stars, we await the risen Christ. He always comes back to us, the essence of love.

Whatever the Approach

I have two friends.  Four footed ones.  I also have permission to give them one dog biscuit a day.  (I’m limited because they’re limitless and I tend to be obsessive compulsive.)  I find their approach to this little exercise fascinating.  Let’s take Toby, the golden retriever.  Toby is a self-assured extrovert, albeit on the lazy side.  When he wants his treat, and he often forgets he’s back for seconds, he slugs me in the back of the knees with whatever is in his mouth.  And he’s always carrying something:  a stuffed toy, a slipper, an old shoe, or quite recently, someone’s wrapped Christmas gift.  Womp!!! My knees buckle. Thanks, Toby.  Message received.  I stop what I’m doing and head for the dog treat cupboard. He awaits:  expectant, grateful, and unabashed.

Then we have Tank, a polite, soft-spoken,  border collie.  I sense someone staring.  When I finally locate the source, there’s Tank, ears down, one eye on me, the other looking another direction.   Experience to the contrary, he’s overcome with shyness.  Suspended above his head is an imaginary bubble that reads, “Geez, I’m sorry. Is this a bad time?  I apologize but I just can’t stop thinking about that biscuit.  No hurry, in fact, if you’re busy, let’s just skip it.”  We stroll to the dog treat cupboard.

I stop to think about my approach to God.  Am I a Toby, a Tank, or a bit of both?  As I’m sometimes the keeper of the dog cookie jar, God is at all times the keeper of blessings.  I suspect He doesn’t tire of hearing from me, whether I’m demanding, mistrustful, or get it just right.  He sees  through His lens  who I am, how I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going.  God is not capricious.  His love is everlasting,  and generosity unencumbered by our negative imaginings.

Psalm 10:17  You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and listen to their cry.

 

 

 

 

An Open Door

by Sister Nun Other

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I am. Not for what I have, not for what I’ve achieved or hope to achieve, but simply because I am. I am opens immeasurable possibilities: participation in a sunrise, interaction with a friend, an occasion for laughter (or tears.) Today I might enjoy beautiful music, lucky dip a scripture that fits just right, or encounter kindness when I least expect it.

All because I was, I am, and will be forever.  All because God extended his arms and invited me in.

Community of Jesus

To Be a Pilgrim

by Sister Nunother

We are the Magi bearing precious gifts, the shepherds tending  flocks, the angel chorus on a star-lit night, the carpenter father, the tender mother. We are conversely Herod and his soldiers, rumors of war, haters of holiness, lovers of iniquity. We arrive at rehearsals with our back-pack burdens of musical score, pencil, bottled water, energy bar, and unruly emotions about to be stirred.

I turn to my bible and explore the profound effect of Bunyan’s he Pilgrim’s ProgressI choose Hosea 14:1-2. Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord; say to Him, “Take away all guilt; accept what is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips.”

It’s such a privilege to sing and listen to powerful words united with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ music in his opera, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Life is a difficult journey, filled with danger real and imagined, temptations blatant and subtle, sorrow, grief, a longing for home, and a search for love that forgives. It’s all present here—visible and audible—lovely in its simplicity and candor.

In January 2017, my beautiful niece lost her life in unspeakable tragedy. Her manner of death left a trail of tears for others’ grief to follow. I see her now in House Beautiful and hear Bunyan’s words, An open door shall be set before thee and no man may shut it. Come thou blessed, enter into the joy of the Lord. A treasure of joy and gladness, joy and gladness be given to thee. A room is prepared for thee; the window shall be toward the sun rising, and the name of the chamber shall be peace.    

I end with this question to myself, “Who am I to argue?”

A Sister
Member of the Chorus

Lemonade Delayed

lemonsWhen life hands you lemons, tread water. Presumptive lemonade could be a mistake. When I read the Psalms, I’m intrigued by the amount of waiting the writer describes. Usually, he’s made a mess of his life, lost his way, or been defeated in battle. Out of innovative ideas, he hides away and says to God, “Okay, it’s your turn. I’m ready for help.”

Now it isn’t easy to tread water, in fact, it’s hard work. Experts tell us to remain upright in a vertical position, head high, breathing slow and regulated, making use of all four limbs at once.  We’re in a state of readiness, prepared for rescue, but not the one in charge.

Sometimes life is just about waiting. Waiting for answers, waiting for direction, waiting for God to gather the pieces and make us whole again.

Thorny Weather

By Sr. Nun Other

Sometimes I clear my thought collection by writing poetry. I un-jumble the jumbled mess by sorting, eliminating, and re-arranging words on paper. Recently, I captured the words thistle thorns and placed them in my reject section. However, they persisted and insisted on space in my poem.

I’m of Scottish descent and somewhere in Scotland, there’s a clan chief and a run-down castle that bears my name. Enter the lowly thistle, scorned by gardeners, despised by children in bare feet, and just below dandelion on the least wanted list. It also happens to be Scotland’s oldest recorded National Flower. A 13th century legend tells of Viking invaders, who hoped to capture the Scots as they slept. Their plan failed when a barefooted soldier tromped on a thistle, cried out in pain, and woke the sleeping Scots. If I’m any example, Scots are not morning people, and the Vikings were quickly overcome by enraged clansmen.

The thistle is a symbol of tenacity. It’s both a humble weed and a complex entity composed of soft downy flower and sharp thorns. Its roots reach deep, it keeps a stubborn grip on the land, and flourishes in adversity. I’m aware that God hands me flowers with thorns now and then. The beauty of the flower is a blessing, but it’s the thorns that make me strong.

thistle

More Than Cliché

By Sr. Nun Other

I wish that I could learn to “leave well enough alone.” It’s a beautiful thing for those who can do it. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I’m the type that must add one more, adjust just a little, and pull the thread that unravels the sleeve. Let’s just say I’ve ruined more than I’ve improved. What to do with me? How do I transform my compulsion to make everything okay?

The Apostle Paul put it this way: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  Philippians 4:6-7

And may I add, if you’re like me, say to thyself, “DON’T TOUCH THE CROOKED PICTURE.”

unravelling_1

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Officially Next Year

By Sr. Nun Other

Baseball season opening day. Defined by colorful uniforms against green grass. Flags unfurled and the Star Spangled Banner sung by someone famous or a regular person deserving a chance. A Blue Angel flyover, and the two best words in all of baseball, “Play Ball!”

And right there, lurking in the background, are the naysayers. They’ve already predicted the third baseman (who they loved three weeks ago) is a huge mistake, the #2 starting pitcher will breakdown mid-season, and at best, your team (fill in the blank) might have a shot at the wild card.

Don’t let them (whoever they are) pick-pocket your hope. They–we–make up stories because really, we don’t know what God intends and just might do. Our job is to hope, believe, anticipate and participate in a well-planned outcome that leads to ultimate good.

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