Wednesday, July 27, 2005

blogging fool

i am wrapping up a summer semester of grad school (masters in ed. esl) and am free to really check out all those religious blogs out there! as i'm new to blogging everything i find is FASCINATING!
i just joined a new blog ring;action=list
which is the revgalblogpals. i've found other women who are checking out their religious vocation. musings of a discerning woman can be found at and i'll add it to my links soon.
i'll explore the convent files at in more depth - probably tomorrow during class.
i'm leaving for england on friday to visit the order of the holy paraclete at whitby which i am interested in joining. well, i guess i'll find out if i'm really interested in joining after my visit there, but i trust my instincts a lot, since that's where god talks to me the loudest.
a lot of people ask, since i'm an episcopalian, why don't i become a priest and then i can get married. i can understand why people would ask that. when i was 16 i thought about becoming a priest and i realized i didn't want to be an administrator. i just had no calling to it at all. i do have a calling to religious life however. in another entry, i'll explain what one novice i met called the nun conspiracy, in which god sends reminders to me about my vocation. sometimes these reminders feel relentless, but i've developped a sense of humor about them.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

checkin' out the call

i went to the cloisters ( in early sept. of 2001 - a few days before sept. 11 as it turned out. the cloisters is a museum, part of the met, and it is like a medieval monastery. it was a beautiful day, sunny and warm but not outrageously hot like nyc gets in summer. i was standing in a herb garden and the pamphlet i read said that this garden was typical of a medival monastic herb garden. i thought, what a wonderful way to live. i would like to live this way. then a thought came into my head that was from beyond myself. the thought said, "you could live this way. you could become a nun." to which i responded, "NO WAY!!!! that's not what i want. what about that wedding i've been planning for the last 32 years?! i was going to be queen for a day and get married and have kids! i want to marry a pediatrician/veterinarian and live in a townhouse on the upper west side. i don't want to become a nun!"
except i knew that i really did want to do that, i just hadn't realized it before god popped that thought into my head, like a pop-up video. i've heard god call me to stuff before and it usually sounds like, "hey, whaddya think of trying this out?" that's what the nun call was like. not a deep voice from a mountain-top saying, "THOU SHALT NOW BECOME A NONNE!" i had the freedom to say no for ever and ever. i said no, well, maybe. give me time to think about it.
i have spent the last four years since then talking to and listening to god (mostly talking). i've been slowly coming round to the idea of being a religious and god has given me all the time and space i want. once, when i was in a yoga class i heard god say, "you know, it's really you who wants to be a nun." i knew it to be true but i still said, no i don't, you're wrong. thank god for god. she is very patient.
now i'm getting ready to go the the order of the holy paraclete ( for a week's visit to see if that's the place for me and vice versa. i'd really like to work in africa with aids orphans. we'll see.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start

i went to catholic elementary school in nyc and studied cathechism, did confession in the second grade, took my first holy communion with my class in the church attached to the school, and then never went to church. my father was baptised presbyterian. my mother was a roman catholic. no one attended church when i was growing up.
when i was 12, the school gave us a form for our parents to fill out at the beginning of the year. it included parents' daytime contact info., home address, etc. i was old enough to fill it out. one line on the form asked for the name of the church i was baptised in. despite not being a regular church-goer, i did know the answer to that. i was baptised at st. peter's in chelsea. i wrote that down (in bad, palmer method penmanship) and handed it in to my teacher.
a few days later, sr. helen, the principal, took me aside. she asked if i was indeed baptised at st. peter's and when i said yes she told me that st. peter's is not a roman catholic church. i told her there had to be some kind of mistake and i'd ask my mom when i got home.
which i did. my mother confirmed that indeed, st. pete's is not r.c. and indeed, i was not baptised r.c.
this is like finding out you're adopted, or, not black.
i asked what religion i was baptised in and she told me episcopalian. i asked what's that? by now i was starting to panic because i knew that everyone who was not catholic ate their babies and were going to hell more or less. mom said that episcopalian is a lot like catholic, but without the guilt. this is why she chose to have me baptised episcopalian, not r.c. like her. this started to sound better than baby eating, spit turning.
i asked, where's the nearest episcopalian church. suddenly, going to church with all the pomp and circumstance and none of the guilt sounded good. she told me of one a few blocks away, next door to my summer camp. Church of the Holy Trinity
i went. by myself. i was 12. two things happened that sunday. one, a homeless woman came into the church after the service was well underway. she shuffled up the center aisle with her bags, looking pretty scruffy. i held my breath, wondering what people would do. i guess i thought they would throw her out. everyone else looked pretty smart. instead of throwing her out, a woman in the pew ahead of this woman turned around. she was tall, thin, wearing a nice dress, pearls, coiffed hair - really, a classic wasp. i remember watching all this agog. she turned to face the bag lady and her face lit up! she smiled and threw her arms around this homeless woman and hugged her as if she were an old friend she hadn't seen in years.
i was hooked from that moment on. i couldn't have articulated it at the time, but i was watching the very essence of christ in both these women. it was absolutely compelling.
the liturgy was so familiar and comfortable. i felt really at home.
then, the other thing happened. we got to the lord's prayer and i was chiming in by heart, as you do. i finished but THE REST OF THE CONGREGATION KEPT GOING. "for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever."
PROTESTANTS! i had heard that this was how prods. finished the lord's prayer. oh my god, i'm among protestants! luther and calvin could be lurking behind a pillar, waiting to get me!
i actually panicked so much that i left the church before the eucharist. it took me a week or so to calm down and accept that, not r.c. generally means protestant. i later learned about all the inbetween.
but i came back. and it's almost 25 years that i've been going to holy trinity. it's my spiritual home. i'm so blessed.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

sr. m.a. on the blog scene

i decided to check out some episcopalian blogs to see if any nuns were blogging. so far, no nuns. now, i'm new to the world of blog, so i may have just not found them yet (i hope). i also noticed that most of the episcopal blogs were by men who are seminarians and priests. hmmmmm.....

i have a religious calling and am just starting the journey to finding a religious order; seeing if this is indeed god's will, listening, not always liking what i hear, and kvetching to god about it.

my nickname for myself is sr. mary alternative because my theology is so very left of center. i consider myself a spongian episcopalian. on the belief-o-matic quiz on i scored as a pagan, then a hindu, then all sorts of things but, actually, episcopalian never even showed up on my list.

funnily enough, i love the episcopal church, believe in the trinity, surrender myself to god's will through jesus. in short, i'm a total episcopalian. i love that there is room for someone like me in the church and i gladly share it with people on the total opposite end of the spectrum and everyone in between!

i am looking forward to comments and please do tell me if there are episcopal/anglican nuns (sisters) with blogs.

with love in christ,
jen the hen

sr. mary alternative at the five and dime in asheville, n.c. Posted by Picasa