control vs. kaos

Why is there a picture of a man holding a shoe that's actually a phone? Well, it's Maxwell Smart of course! When I saw the Harry Potter movie a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to see that there's a big screen version of Get Smart coming soon to a theater near you. I loved that show!

But that's not why his picture is there. His picture is there because I was reminded of Get Smart when I read this post by Sarah at the nun thing. Sarah is preparing to enter her own community of groovy sisters in Australia, so it's only natural that she's thinking about a little thing we call "control."
So it's not really surprising that the big unsureness of not knowing where I'm going to be living in a months time is getting to me. I'm clutching at spanners, trying to prepare for the more likely eventualities and it's driving me nuts!

I know I'm meant to take my hands off the steering wheel at this point but it's hard. I'm a grown up. I've been planning and running my own life for some time now and while it's not been a mapped out kind of adventure there has been some planning. I'm used to planning. I like planning.

And yet in this, it's not me that gets to plan. and that is really quite frustrating!
What does this have to with Get Smart you ask???? Because Maxwell Smart was a secret agent for a spy angency called "Control", of course! And what was the name of the enemy spy agency? "Kaos!"

As a grown woman entering religious life, it's not poverty or celibacy that I find the biggest challenge, but rather the whole idea of giving up my independent life and not being the sole agent in control of what I'm doing in 10 minutes, 10 hours or 10 years from now. While it's not quite the same as it was prior to Vatican II, when our Sisters received a piece of paper in the summer telling them to pack their trunk and show up at such and such school on September 1st*, it's also not like it was when I was a single woman in charge of my own destiny.

I remember last summer when I was preparing to enter the Novitiate I had a minor freak out moment when I looked at my calendar and realized that after September 8th - the date of my entrance - I had NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING! Like Sarah, I'm a planner. I found it so hard not to know what would come after that date. What I have been living into ever since then is a little thing we call trust and being in the present moment. Because the interesting thing is, even if I haven't been the sole planner of my life and activities, I have been an active participant. It's just that now I have others involved in those decisions - my community leadership, my novice director, the Sisters I live with. Instead of being independent or dependent, I'm interdependent - or working on it anyway. In a weird way I'm finding that there's some freedom in not being the sole decision maker. I get the valuable input and wisdom of those around me, as well as their support and companionship along the way.

Which isn't that much different from Maxwell Smart. Alone, he could never defeat the forces of Kaos. He always needed the guidance of his Chief and the assistance of Agent 99. No one, after all, is an island!

*In religious life these days there is much more of what we call "mutual discernment" in deciding ministry and living situations. My friend Julie hosted a great discussion on mutual discernment awhile back if you'd like more info on that concept.


Sarah said...

I used to love Get Smart. A few weeks ago my formation director told me (while not being able to tell me anything concrete) to "go gently and enjoy each day as it comes"... I'm gunna need some time before I can do that when I have so little idea of what's coming! I hope I can come to enjoy or at least be more comfortable with the lack of control soon!
For the record "clutching at spanners" is a deliberate mixing of sayings and a little nod to a great Australian comedy "Kath and Kim"

Tess said...

That reminds me of when I was thinking of becoming a nun some years ago. (I didn't go ahead with it.) Looking back, I remember most of my practical questions were about what was "allowed": what independence would I have, what was the structure like, would I have any choice what to eat, what were the rules for seeing my friends and family. When you've lived an independent life for a long time it is hard to get your head around some aspects.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Sarah - I was wondering about that phrase and figured it was something Australian. I don't know that I'll ever enjoy the lack of control. I think there's some sort of mind shift that needs to take place so I can see it as a different form of participation rather than being out of control. It's a journey to be sure!

Tess - When I first arrived in the Novitiate I was consumed with those practical control issues. The weird thing is, now they're not that important to me.