Sunday, October 18, 2009

lydia, oh lydia, oh, have you seen lydia?

so, i'm realizing a whole lotta things all at once which is pretty flippy trippy.
1. it's looking like i am not going to be a nun in the traditional sense.
2. this should not surprise me as i am not an altogether traditional person.
3. it did surprise me at first, but i am getting my head wrapped around it.
4. when i was in swaziland, staying with sr. carole at ohp's orphanage, she told me that convents around the world are getting smaller with fewer and fewer women entering them but that it's ok. god has god's seasons and maybe the holy spirit has something else in mind for the church now. something new. she reminded me that when the anglican church started seeing a grass roots building up of religious orders in the mid-19th century, the holy spirit was guiding that. now, governments do the work that nun used to do. ngo's do that work.
5. once i got back from swaziland i was faced with something i had been putting to the back of my mind b/c i was so focused on getting to africa. something that had been bothering me a lot lately and this is it: i stopped going to church b/c i was burned out on over-extending myself there. i missed the eucharist though. this summer i went to mid-day eucharist services at big churches and the cathedral. i have been in the episcopal church my whole life. i went to catholic school as well which is similar in liturgy. all of a sudden, the mass was starting to look silly to me. a man or woman wearing a ridiculous poncho thingy whose origins were ancient and useless today, waving his or her hands over the magic goblet and cookies. the whole eucharist was starting to look like harry potter to me. i definitely wasn't feeling the presence of christ. i wasn't seeing the connection between this and christ's message of love, integrity, hope. instead, i was getting caught up in the show and flash.
-allow me to interrupt myself to say this is strictly a personal experience. i am not saying that the eucharist is silly or the traditions of the episcopal or catholic church. it's just not working for me anymore.
6. i've started going to an emerging church in alphabet city. it's called st. lydia's and the service is - we cook a large dinner. we meet in the narthex (st. lydia's rents space from a lutheran church) and sing plain chant. we go to the sanctuary where dinner tables are set up. an ordained person blesses the bread (a delicious baguette) and we all pass it around. we eat dinner together. once we are done eating, we read a bible passage aloud. the person in charge for the day gives a mini-sermon on the passage. we share our understanding of the passage. we hold up our wine glasses at the end of the meal and the wine is blessed. and that's communion. it's an agape meal, like the one the early church people used to have. it's intimate, personal, community. it's lovely. sometimes it's messy and scruffy, just like christ and his followers. i'm really enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i had to post this link a lady-priest friend of mine posted on her facebook page.

top ten reasons why men shouldn't be ordained

Monday, September 21, 2009


i just took that belief-o-matic quiz on and came up a unitarian universalist ... AGAIN! i took the quiz for the first time several years ago and my results were similar. episcopalian didn't even come up in my list as also rans.
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (93%)
3. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (88%)
4. Liberal Quakers (88%)
5. New Age (87%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (86%)
7. New Thought (83%)
8. Hinduism (79%)
9. Theravada Buddhism (79%)
10. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (77%)

good think i'm an episcopalian! there's plenty of room for people like me in the episcopal church.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

back home and thinking, praying, meditating

i've been back for a week and half or so now and i've been:
*talking with a lot of people - a friend who works for episcopal relief and development and i'm meeting with someone in the mission office at the main office of the episcopal church (affectionately known as 815 due to its address of 815 second avenue in nyc).
i've also been talking with priests, pastors, nuns, and laypeople because of some thoughts i was having before i left for africa but put to the side because i was so focused on getting to africa. now that i'm back, i am having these thoughts again. and here's what i'm thinking. when i go to church and i watch the priest bless the bread and the wine i'm reminded that since we lived in caves, humans have always had a need for shamanism/magic workers/religion/spirituality. i think that's what the ritual of the church fills - when the priest stands there wearing big, colorful robes, waving his or her hands over wafers and a fancy goblet of wine ... it looks like a magic show or something to me suddenly. it looks incredibly silly. i've been going to the same church since i was 12. before that, i went to catholic school and i've been watching priests do this since i was small. i don't believe in transubstantiation and i'm not required to thank god (literally) but i've never thought the eucharist was silly before. now, i really have to ask myself - what is the purpose of this? why is this priest wearing that silly outfit that (s)he would never wear in normal life. why is (s)he waving her/his hands over these bits of bread and wine? what has this to do with the christian message? with the good news of jesus? with love your enemy?
i think part of it is that i'm just not feeling it at church these days. it feels like motions to go through, not a genuine reflection of god's love for her people.
i'm looking at emerging church. i did some research and found anglimergent and some emerging churches in manhattan. i also watched brian mclaren's keynote speech to the diocese of d.c. at their convention which i highly recommend.
i also found some stuff about neo or new monasticism. you'll just have to google that one, i can't include all the links. there's a house in north philadelphia that i'd like to visit. it's called the simple way. closer to home there's radical living. just looking at the websites they seem like intentional living communes. they're neither of them episcopalian but they are christian. they don't pray together like how traditional nuns do the daily office but they are living the message. st. francis once said preach the gospels. use words if necessary. that's what they are doing.
but, this is just the beginning of my search.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

overseas nun sighting

so, despite my doubts that i should be a religious, i'm still seeing nuns. i saw one in the johannesburg airport the day i was leaving (god is so ironic and bitchy). today, in london, i was waiting for the lift (elevator) to take me up from the tube (subway) station and saw a nun in white habit reflected in the shiny lift doors. i turned around and smiled at her (grimly).
last hope - order of st. helena's in augusta, georgia. they have something going on in ghana i believe. i'll call them when i get home.
please keep me in your prayers because i am really confused.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

lots to think about

i'm in england now - london. i'm heading to whitby tomorrow. i've just been in swaziland for close to two weeks. when i get home i'll put pictures up. the sisters from ohp run an orphanage for girls who have been abused in swaziland. they have 25 girls right now and 8 are hiv positive. the girls were so sweet and fun and good. i worked with a few of them on homework and one girl in particular on reading. i won't go into the girls' stories but many of them are horrific. a lot of rape.
i had some really good, long, intersting talks with sr. carole, ohp. she runs the orphanage with sr. karan but sr. karan is in england for chapter so i didn't get to meet her. i don't think she'll be there when i am at whitby either. that's ok though.
here's some of what came from my conversations with sr. carole:
- this convent is closing up its work in africa. they've recently closed their house in johannesburg. sr. carole doesn't expect them to be in swaziland but a few more years.
- if i do enter ohp (or any other convent when i think about it) i would not go to africa or i would only go for a little while.
- instead, i would probably do administrative work at the mother house.
- i would probably also take care of the older sisters.
- what will the convent look like in 40-50 years when i am old? will there be anyone to look after me? would i be the last nun standing?
- am i really going to give up my pension for that?
to be continued ...

Friday, July 24, 2009

getting from point a to point b

i'm leaving on monday for africa to visit the order of the holy paraclete at their house in swaziland where they run a girl's orphanage. i am flying into johannesburg. flights to swaziland are sold out (i'm imagining a 10-seater plane made of balsa wood and rubber bands). there's a backpacker bus tour that goes to swaziland - the last bus leaves at 9.15 a.m. and i arrive in the jo'burg airport at 8.35 a.m. there are minibus taxis but they seem dangerous at best. the vans are in bad condition, the drivers are insane, they don't go direct but will drop me off at a location and tell me to change buses. meanwhile, i'll be alone with a u.s. passport, money, and a vagina. the state dept. and british home office websites basically say that if you're a woman you'll be raped as soon as you set foot in jo'burg. great.
i'm a seasoned traveler but this is nervous making.
so, please pray for me to get to bulembu in one piece with my passport, money, and hoo-hoo intact.

Monday, June 22, 2009

vocation trip

i am going to africa - to visit the order of the holy paraclete's convent in swaziland. they run a girl's orphanage there. they moved their convent to a town called bulembu - a mining town that was converted to a village that has job training, a hospital, and a school. i'll stay two weeks and then i'm going to the mother house in england.
i probably won't be able to post from africa - but i'll take a lot of photos and post when i get home. i'm not leaving until late july. i can't wait! i'm so looking forward to seeing the convent in africa and the orphanage. i feel a step closer to the goal.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

two nuns at one street fair!

where are all these nuns coming from? one at the beginning of the 2nd ave. street fair being held on 3rd ave due to 2nd ave subway construction on 2nd ave. a veil and a polyester suity type thing. the other i saw on my return saunter through the fair. wearing a brown habit with a peaked veil - black i think, maybe brown. can't remember. i had two friends with me so i'm not making these sightings up and their not like snuffaluffagus.
i'm working towards it. i wonder if once i do enter an order i'll stop seeing nuns (other than the ones i'll be living with of course).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the question of kids

when i first heard the call to the religious life i said to god, "no f#%*ing way!" i was planning on getting married (preferably to a pediatrician/veterinarian) and have children (two and send them to collegiate). so, i thought for a long time about why those things were deal breakers for me. i came to the conclusion at the end of my think that marriage i could definitely live without. i really only wanted a wedding anyway, not necessarily a husband. kids though, that was tough. i had always wanted to be a mother. so, i decided that since i figured god didn't make a mistake in calling me to a live of poverty, chastity, and obedience that i would at least have to be able to work with kids. so, i got my master's in teaching english as a second language to K-12 grades and began teaching 5 years ago. i hope that when i do enter the convent, they'll look at my experience and qualifications and let me keep teaching as a religious.
i still love kids but .... i'm ok now without having any of my own. they say that teaching is the best birth control there is. it's working for me. 25 kids in school is way different than one or two at home but still.
all joking aside i think i can do better by NOT being related to children because they'll be more likely to open up to me. when i was a teenager especially i relied on my relationships with adults who were not my mom (my dad had died by then) - esp. my youth group leaders from church. they totally rocked. i hope to be a rocking nun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

astoria, queens nun sighting

saw a nun and a woman who might have been her sister, actually, on 30th ave. when i was getting my lunch today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

nun sighting

an asian nun in a slightly peaked veil entering the subway station as i was exiting. i had a real pang after she passed me - i want to be a nun.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

you may be a nun if ...

the universe may be telling you that you are a nun if you ...
+ sing the magnificat in plainsong chant style while walking up or down stairs alone
+ pray over your fresh laundry
+ see nuns everywhere you go
+ see nuns so often that now even your friends are seeing them in airports and stuff
+ think meryl streep's character in the film doubt was a hero and you hope to be a nun just like her when you grow older
+ have the book of common prayer online version saved to your favorites on the blackberry
+ love your pet dog but start making plans for the next phase of your life for after she dies

Thursday, April 09, 2009

the empty mouse house

when i was in first grade at st. ignatius loyola school we used to go to church for holy days of obligation. this was back in the days when i didn't know i'd been baptized episcopalian. i went to catholic school b/c i wasn't zoned for a good public school and my mother and her mother went to convent schools so on it went with me. i used to look at the tabernacle which was very fancy, made of marble with golden doors, and i pretended it was a house for church mice. i call it the mouse house to this day.

so, tonight we had our maundy thursday service at my church and the foot washing is always a funny thing (i had my foot done - we only do one). i love the part where simon peter tells jesus - you won't wash my feet! only to change it to - wash not only my feet but my hands and head also! what a doofus. i love simon peter because he is the disciple who consistently puts his foot in his mouth (let's build a booth on this mountainside where we saw jesus transfigured! i can walk on water ... oops! no i can't! what a dope.). he is just like me - duh!

anyway, it was a festive kind of service (for episcopalians, honestly, i cannot WAIT to get to africa and see how they worship there) with all of us standing around the altar table, passing baskets of bread and cups of wine to each other for eucharist.
then, we went back to our pews and the priests stripped the altar and sanctuary of all decorations while a quartet chanted the 22nd psalm. it's always very moving for me and really gets me into the spirit of the mourning and loss the disciples must have felt during these few days. at my church, the priests remove pew cushions, hymnals, books of common prayer, those table cloth things (there's some fancy liturgical name for them but i don't know what it is). the final thing to be removed is the consecrated bread and wine that is in the mouse house. there is an eternal flame over the mouse house and that is extinguished. then, the bread and wine are taken away, and the mouse house door is left open, an empty mouse house exposed. i am telling you it gets me every time! i don't believe in transubstantiation per se but it hits me like a ton of bricks every year when i see that! and i think to myself - i miss him! where is he?! when will he be back? i get really lost and sad.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

nun sighting - with backup!

i saw a nun on the subway today and i was with a friend (who says the only time she ever sees nuns is when she's with me). i told my friend that i think it's good to see some of these nuns with someone else beside me so it's not like snuffleuphagus (i.e. all in my head for those who did not grow up with snuffy being a character that only big bird could see on sesame street. they kept him a b.b. only friend during the early 70's and then made it so everyone could see him b/c research tests or some shit showed that kids were going slightly wonky over the fact that only big bird could see snuffleuphagus who wasn't invisible or imaginary, he would simply walk off just before maria or bob or mr. hooper or someone would come by).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

nun drive by

on the way home from taking the stray cat i have adopted to the vet (he bit me when they took his temperature. hey, if someone took my temp that way i'd probably bite too) i saw a nun on 72nd and 1st out the bus window. there is a convent on 72nd street a couple of blocks up from 1st ave. so that feels a little like cheating. i think a true nun sighting is when i'm in a completely random place like central park or on a bus late at night or in midtown.
on another note, today is my 40th birthday. i am in a new decade and this is the decade in which i enter a convent (god willing) so that's pretty cool.
i'd like to go to africa to visit ohp's house in swaziland and i'm trying to decide if i should go over easter vaca (i get a week and a half) or in the summer (when i can take more time).
in the meantime, i am gearing up for lent! i love lent! for me it's the spiritual "5 more minutes" snuggling under the blankets in the cold winter with god and jesus. mmmmm....

Friday, January 09, 2009

nun sighting

saw a pair of mother theresa nuns on 86th and 3rd. nuns always used to go about in pairs and don't anymore for practicallity's sake (there are so fewer nuns you can't spare one to accompany another one on her errands). but, those mo. theresa nuns still bop about in pairs. must be loads of them. what a wonderful witness they are to christ's love and compassion embodied on earth in their white habits with blue trim. the colors remind me of the greek flag, the israeli flag, the flag of norway(?) and esp. of the greek diner to-go coffee cup!