My Sister Act Moment

We interrupt this blog break to share with you ... My Sister Act Moment.

Chances are you’ve seen the movie Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg. You know the one – a show girl from Vegas (or was it Reno) witnesses a murder and is given refuge in a convent to protect her from the bad guys until the trial. While there, Whoopi – now christened Sr. Mary Clarence - learns that nuns are people too, revamps the choir and helps bring lots of people into or back to the church in the process.

I’ve had a Sister Act moment myself this past week while I’ve been away from the blog. No, I haven’t developed a sudden singing talent or been involved in any unconventional evangelization techniques. I did leave the Novitiate for a few days to testify at a felony trial, however.

No need to go into details about the trial here (the trial is actually continuing - but my part is done.) Suffice it to say it’s a blast from my bureaucratic past. The events in question took place in the Spring of 2006. During my last week at work in August I spent the good part of a day meeting with the detectives on the case. Last fall I testified to the Grand Jury by written affidavit, but they needed me live and in person for the actual trial. Hence, when the subpoena was issued a few months ago, it wasn’t a surprise. My community has also been really understanding. I’ve kept them in the loop about the possibility since last summer, so when the subpoena arrived they ok’d my time away from the novitiate.

Aside from the very interesting experience of being an “expert” witness – I was on the stand for about an hour – the trip was extremely useful discernment wise. As careful readers have probably picked up, I’ve been feeling a bit homesick the past few months. I’ve also had a number of unbloggable challenges, mostly involving personality differences, community living and adjustment to religious life. In and of themselves each challenge has been small and manageable, but piled one on top of the other in the context of the liminal space of the novitiate they at times seem almost overwhelming.

Which is why I found it very interesting to return home to my good friends and realize that even if my life of late has been a bit stressful and overwhelming, it’s nothing compared to how stressed and overwhelmed my friends and former coworkers are. And by extension, nothing compared to how overwhelmed and stressed I used to be in my former life. This caused me to wonder – what’s the difference? And I think the difference is part of the mystery of this calling to religious life. Even at those moments this past year when I’ve been sad or lonely or frustrated with various and sundry little things, deep down I’ve been at peace. Deep down I’ve been centered. Deep down I’ve been connected to something bigger, to someone bigger. (Not to mention those other awesome moments where I am happy and calm and excited about all the amazing bits of this wonderful crazy life.)

I love Portland. I love my friends. I love my old parish. I love the connections and roots I’ve developed there and the person I became during my 16 years there. In short, it’s home. But this week helped confirm that it’s not where I’m meant to be, at least not at this point in my life. I’m being called to stretch and to grow in new ways, in new places and with new people. That was a very good realization to come to as I prepared to head back to New Jersey and the Novitiate. My last few weeks and months living there were so frantic and crazy, I wasn’t really able to come to closure. I feel so very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend this week back home to visit with folks and arrive at that closure, all while doing my civic duty.

Well, that’s all I wanted to write for now. I’m going to be away from the blog for at least another week. Now that my Sister Act moment is over, I’m headed to our retreat house on the shore for a week. Assuming I make it home that is – I’m stranded in Dallas right now where my connecting flight was cancelled. Hopefully I’m make it home Saturday, and then on Sunday I’ll head to the shore. I’m not going on retreat or vacation – I’m volunteering – but I think it will be a good relaxing week helping out our Sisters there nonetheless.

See you all in a bit!


grace said...

sounds like a really interesting moment. i like what you said about your life in portland, it's how i feel about my life here. hopefully i'll stretch and grow in new ways, with new people IN portland & then going onto spokane

Anonymous said...

We all feel that way sometimes, and it's wonderful when you reconnect to the imporant things in your life. I think it was Mother Thersa who said "God will never give you more than you can handle, I just wish he didn't trust me so much". God Bless you on your Journey.

Anonymous said...

Good observations, Susan. I, too, have found that a little break from "the convent" from time to time, whether it be in the form of a weekend down home with my mom, or, most recently, away at retreat, puts things back into perspective for me, and always leaves me eager to get back "home"--to 'my nuns.' :)