As I am typing this, I don’t have a July sub-box that has arrived yet! Good thing that I didn’t put those posts in my planner har, har. Although, I think that my Book of the Month book arrives today so maybe I will post about that later…? Tap out now if you are squeamish or devoutly religious. It is true, there was a time when I wanted to be a nun – I had met quite a few nuns in my girlhood and I thought they were fascinating. They were usually incredibly kind with purely peaceful dispositions surrounded by calm and tranquility. I definitely thought this was the career for me, I loved the whole idea; the solitude, the peace and quiet, the giving, the outfits 😛 There was a sect of Carmelites that lived near to where I grew up and they had this amazing garden and the grounds of the church were so peaceful, it was so pastoral and picturesque. I wanted to help the needy, the sick, the dying, – the religious aspect was always somewhat secondary to me. Of course it played a role in my desire to become a nun, I grew up in a very Catholic household and I feel that this environment produces two extremes – either a complete split with religion or complete devotion. Most of my siblings went the complete split route and I saw a future in the Church much to the delight of my mother. Then I met the man of my dreams who led me down the primrose path and there went my plans to be a nun. Literally none of that happened – I actually spent 6 months in a refugee camp in a war torn, third world country helping the needy, sick and dying and there went my plans to be a nun.
I thought that this mission was going to be great, I was going to really experience what it was like to do God’s work and I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty (and every other part of me, the skabies were just a fun surprise). I was a moron. Having grown up in a rural, middle class, predominantly white community I didn’t understand things like hunger, incurable sickness, helplessness in the face of death, having never experienced any of these during my lifetime. At 19 I had an aunt who had passed away, a grandfather who died before I was born, a childhood friend who was hit by a car but none of this prepared me for the raw, naked inhumanity of life in a refugee camp in Africa. It was awful, we witnessed children dying, saw gangrenous wounds that led to blood poisoning and ultimately death, starvation, dehydration, exposure, desperation of families who had been separated from loved ones – we saw it all and in the face of tragedy, we prayed. That’s what you do and then you wait for an answer to your prayers. The problem for me was that my prayers didn’t seem to get answered and I got tired of waiting for His Divine Time. I became extremely bitter and I realized that I did not have the patience nor countenance to be a nun. Good Christians will often explain away senseless tragedy by saying that there is a reason, things happen for a reason, we don’t know that reason but that’s faith.
The first night back in the states I had a 101 degree fever as I had strep, was infested with skabies (don’t Google it) and eventually had to cut off all of my lovely hair as I hadn’t washed it for 6 months. You don’t waste water on frivolities like washing your hair in countries where there is hardly clean drinking water. Which, all very trivial considering what I had left behind. I had a tough time acclimating, everything was too loud, too crowded, too invasive, too convenient, too little suffering. I couldn’t and still cannot grasp how on the same planet, we have epidemics of obesity and children starving to death. How can these extremities co-exist? At some point, the missionary group met with our Priest and a few other church elders to debrief and share our experiences with the congregation. I remember the youth pastor saying that we came back so full of the Holy Spirit, compassion, peace and all I was thinking was, And apparently full of shit. I applied for college, started a year late, worked my ass off to catch up and tucked the experience away. I never grew my hair out though, I keep it short – shearing off my hair to damn near my scalp was very symbolic to me. The naivety of childhood, innocence, ignorance – sheared it all off. Which might sound like complete bullshit but it has always stuck with me. And a hairdresser cut my hair off for me, I didn’t shave my head or anything. Although, whenever I am in stressful situations I tend to tell people that I am going to shave my head – this is fairly effective 😛 The mission was the best and worst experience of my life, I would recommend that everyone who is able should experience something like this in their lifetime. You learn so much and it changes you, mostly for the better though.
I feel guilty that I couldn’t hack it, that there wasn’t a big enough part of me that really wanted to make a difference. That I am not as compassionate, kind and charitable as I thought I was. I felt weak, ineffectual and helpless – lacking in resilience and fortitude, lacking in all of the qualities that a good nun needs. I still studied religion as my major and then education, it intrigues me that across the span of centuries among countless civilizations, there is always a higher power, some being that we attribute our creation to. Part of me still wants to think that there is something there but part of me also believes that maybe our egos simply can’t handle the reality of our own mortality.
So yes, once upon a time, quite some time ago – I thought I would be a nun and then I grew up.
Thanks for stopping by <3