A protestant took part in a Catholic Eucharist. In other news: Hell did not freeze over.
It happened last Friday, March 1. The convent’s “Founding Day.” The Mass was a special one and many people attended. Sisters from far away attended. Employees of the convent attended.
I, a Presbyterian, attended.
I knew none of the songs, but I faked it well. As for the prayers, there were a few others not doing the sign of the cross either. So yeah. I wasn’t the only protestant on the field. (For the record, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with a protestant making the motion, however this one is fairly certain she’d whack herself in the nose if she attempted it.)
Then we segued into the Eucharist and in all honesty, Catholics are masters with the segue. It’s seamless. There was another song and people started walking forward. I was about to sit down because, you know. Not Catholic.
Only I noticed everyone was walking forward. Everyone. Even the non-crossers, whom we presume are fellow protestants.
I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. I had Catholic friends. I know the drill. Only Catholics. Never me.
But these Franciscans have been described as radical. So maybe?
I whispered to the woman sitting next to me – a frequent visitor to the convent, she runs their volunteer organization in St. Cloud — and I ask, “Do you know if it’s okay if protestants–”
I didn’t get to finish; she was nodding emphatically. “I know for a fact it’s okay,” she said, adding, “The Sisters think it’d be like inviting someone to dinner and then not allowing them to eat.”
Which is a marvelous way to put it, don’t you think?
Speaking of dinner, there was one after the Mass and it was free. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, several salads including a “copper coin” salad. A dish that will forever change my view on cooked carrots. For dessert, apple pie.
In sadder news from the convent:
One of the Sisters passed away.
Deaths are announced quietly here, by way of a little slip of paper on the entrance to the convent.
It was a Sister I’d never met before: Sister Bernarda. She was 102 years old.
She had been a registered nurse and hospital administrator. Other Sisters reported she was always dignified and direct, and took care to present herself well and look her best. They also said she was very patient and kind to young nurses in training, had a charming sense of humor and was loved by all.
One thing I kept hearing from the Sisters: “I’m happy for her.”
They truly have a different view of death.
The day before she died, Sister Bernarda went to the convent’s beauty salon and got a permanent. (Let that sink in. At 102, she got a perm.)
She told the beautician she needed to look nice because she was “going to meet Jesus.”
This is the news, folks. I’m not making this up.
From the lighter side of of the news:
Yesterday was Donut Day. Also known as Shrove Tuesday.
So apparently this is a thing? Honestly, I had no idea. Growing up Lutheran, every day was donut day. But for those whose Lenten tradition meant giving up decadent food, all that fat and sugar had to get used up. Hence, donuts on Shrove Tuesday.
Full disclosure: I’ve never had a donut as good as my Grandma’s. They arrived on your plate literally moments after she pulled them from the fryer, crispy and golden and oh-so-good. Never too sweet and perfect for dunking in tea.
But these, my friends? These came close. Really, really close.
Speaking of Lent, not sure if it’s your custom to give up something – it’s not mine, but I always liked the notion strictly for the challenge of it. Anyway, came across something that might be the most difficult challenge I’ve seen. It comes from Pope Francis.
Even if we aren’t 100% successful, I rather think if we all just attempted these, we might change the world.
And that’s our news from the convent. Until next time: Be humble, be kind, and always choose love. 💗
I’m taking a lesson from my wise friend Andrew and decided not to wait for something clever to pop into my head before I wrote a blog post.
Just write, he said. So that’s what I’m doing. Just writing.
(The advantage of this is that if you don’t like the result, blame Andrew.)
It’s 25° as I’m writing this and we haven’t seen temps on this side of 0 for some time. Lord knows when we will again, so I should be outside. Only my jacket is in the dryer right now, so there you go.
This is what happens when you buy a white coat — this is my smaller coat, not the huge quilt I showed you in my previous post. This one is more like a ski jacket, very lightweight but waterproof and windproof and surprisingly warm. It’s also white, because I have a thing for white coats.
That reminds me. There was a new alto in choir last Wednesday. She just moved into the area and was telling me how hard it was to find a house to buy. They looked at seven in their price range and one was really, really nice, but it had white carpeting in the dining room. So they went with a different house that wasn’t as nice, but at least it didn’t have white carpeting.
This led to a discussion among the altos and a couple second sopranos as to what sort of person chooses white carpeting for a dining room. The general consensus was that it was a childless couple with no pets. “And they only drink white wine,” I added.
Though really, it goes without saying. Only Pinot Grigio goes with white carpeting.
I used to have a white couch. It was a beautiful couch. I loved it very much. Then we sat on it. It wasn’t white anymore. But man, for those first 15 minutes? It was gorgeous.
One of the second sopranos said people who choose white decor are delusional. “Do they think it’s going to stay that way? They’re insane!”
I disagreed with her, but I kept it to myself. You just never know with second sopranos. They look harmless enough, but they can be feisty.
I think white decor enthusiasts know exactly what they’re doing. They know it will show dirt. It’s kinda the point. They want to know when it’s dirty so they can clean it. Such is their dedication to cleanliness.
And I am right there with them, too. Boy howdy. Totally with them. If I lived all alone, that is. And didn’t live in a slushy area. And have a black cat. Or drink red wine.
Yeah. Totally there.
Gah, I just had to let Dog out for the second time. She paws at the back door to be let out, then she walks around to the front of the house to be let in, waits five minutes and then paws at the back door again. Pretty sure she wants a walk.
What I should do is grab my coat and take her outside, but, you know, it’s in the dryer. And my other coat is way too warm for 25°.
The annoying thing is that the whole time Dog is outside, and I’m meaning the whole time, Merricat, who is not allowed outside, meows. On and on and on, she meows. And she doesn’t stop until Dog comes back inside.
Oh dang, I just missed Dog at the front door. When I got to the door she had already turned around and was walking away.
She’s pretty much deaf now, so the only way I can get her attention is by throwing something at her.
Snowballs work, but I’ve got lousy aim. So now I have to wait until she’s facing me again. While Merricat sings the song of her people.
Don’t you wonder about dogs when they go deaf? I mean, they don’t know they’re deaf right? So they’re probably wondering why we’re not talking to them anymore.
Or maybe they feel bad for us. “Oh, my poor human. Her mouth is moving but no sound is coming out. I wonder if she knows?”
You know what I think my problem is? (I’m off the topic of deaf dogs now, she’s back inside.) This is regarding coming up with ideas on what to write.
I think it has to do with my title, Feeding on Folly. It’s hemmed me in. Fact is, I’m not seeing a whole lot of folly nowadays.
There was a time when folly was all around me. Working at a high school in an affluent area, people taking themselves too seriously, taking their jobs too seriously, taking everything too seriously. Especially the secretary who worked right across from me, the one who left anonymous notes in the breakroom regarding coffee cups she never used. Man, she supplied me with countless example of folly.
But now, working at a convent? There’s a woeful lack of folly. It’s weird, but of all people who probably have a right to take themselves seriously, nuns don’t.
By the way, did you know they’re not technically nuns? Technically speaking, nuns live in a cloistered community. If they work outside the convent as teachers or nurses or whatever, they are sisters. All nuns are sisters, but not all sisters are nuns.
Fascinating, don’t you think?
Not that it matters much. One of the sisters told me most Catholics don’t know the difference either, so they don’t worry about it. If people call them nuns, they just roll with it.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, a lack of folly. What to do, what to do…
Here’s some ideas:
Write about the convent, what it’s like to work there, what I encounter and such, keeping in mind very little of it is folly-related. OR,
Now that I no longer work at the school and there can be no repercussions, really let loose on the folly I witnessed there. OR,
Alternate between the two, cause why not? OR,
Write whatever the hell I want. Folly or not.
You know, this is about the time we should start questioning Andrew’s wisdom, but maybe he was on to something. (We probably shouldn’t tell him that, though. He’s a nice guy and we don’t want him to get a big head.)
Oh hey, my coat is dry and oooh, it’s so white and clean! Guess I’ll be taking Dog for a walk after all.
Okay, so that’s it for this post. Stay tuned til next week when we’ll be talking about nuns… I mean, sisters… or my folly-filled memories, or whatever the hell I want.
On a post about five or so months ago, where I told of my relocation up North, I ended by saying I got a job at a hospital near our house.
Maybe you wondered why I never mentioned this job again? Or maybe you never thought about it, which is completely understandable because why would you?
The reason I never talked about the job was because 10 days into said job, I quit.
Have you ever started working at a place and as you stood there watching the other employees do their thing, know deep in your heart it’s not your thing and never would be your thing and what in God’s name ever made you think it could be your thing?
Also, what I was told would be my schedule turned out to be more theory than practice. It might one day be my schedule, but for now it was anything goes. So I went.
What followed was a time of self-reflection, doubt, and existential malaise. Or, what is commonly known as, a job search.
I forget how many interviews I had. Or how many times Indeed-dot-com notified me with: “______ looked at your resume!” Without bothering to note that “_____” was in California or Florida or Guam.
I tried to stay positive.
Hey, with all this free time, I can write blog posts galore! Resuscitate its Facebook page, update the blog theme, tidy up the sidebar!
Gosh, maybe I’ll even dig out that novel I’ve been working on for… oh gee, I don’t know… 15 years? Hey, now I can be a full-time writer!
Oh, if only I had a smoking jacket! Or smoked!
But lo, this writer’s dream was not to be. I found that with no pressure on my time, I make sad use of it. I needed to get out of the house. I needed a sense of purpose. I needed—gasp!—I needed to be around people. (For an introvert, this is a startling revelation.)
Then Husband found a help wanted ad in the paper:
Administrative Assistant with desktop publishing and database skills; ability to write and format newsletters; creativity and good writing skills a must; knowledge of video editing software a plus. Please send letter of introduction with resume.
There was one peculiar addition:
Must be knowledgeable of Franciscan spirituality or willing to learn.
Forgot to mention, the job was at a convent.
So, yeah. I’m working at a convent now. Have been for a little over a month. It’s a fascinating place.
I don’t mean to put down men—honestly, I love you guys—but there’s something about women who choose to live without them. It’s like they come into their own.
Also, this Franciscan thing.
The couple I work for–they’re a lay couple who oversee two of the convent’s ministries–they give me books to read so I can understand their work better. They reserve a quiet room for me, I can get free popcorn at the convent’s top-notch cafeteria. We meet afterwards to discuss what I read.
It’s like I’m getting paid to attend a book club.
Things I’ve learned: St. Francis was a radical. And here I thought he was just a guy who liked birds.
These nuns can be pretty radical too. Never before have I worked with a group of people who are so focused outwardly. Even things like tossing a piece of paper in the garbage—Wait! That can be recycled!—Wait! Did we write on both sides first?
The woman I work for, let’s call her Mrs. Boss, said if anything were to happen in town—if some injustice was occurring—these sisters would be the first ones marching out the door, carrying signs in protest.
And I can see it happening, too. Though it would be a slow procession, given their ages and several using walkers.
Such is my life now. Living in a blue state, working among Franciscan nuns.
And here I thought the biggest change for me would be the weather. 😉