The Pedestal

pedestal

Once I left the convent, I wanted to consider myself normal. I lived in the regular world, had a boyfriend-soon-to-become-husband, a job, and lived a regular house. Everything seemed unremarkable and normal to me. But I was soon to discover I was anything but. My family didn’t want me to be regular. They bristled at the fact that I moved from the convent to a live-in situation with my boyfriend. They were shocked that I’d given up my faith, since my parents and most of my siblings were faithful Catholics. How could I NOT be, when I’d been a nun for so long?

They had put me on a pedestal and then eventually forgotten I was real.

In the meantime, I’d spent too many years breathing the rarified air from the top of a pedestal and found it lonely and uncomfortable. I’d learned to  obey without question and respond immediately to the call of the bell. I became a dutiful nun. A good girl. A saint–a woman worthy of praise.

Having finally rediscovered my humanity, I began listening to my own voice and gradually fell down from the pedestal.

Though I have had to learn to live in its shadow.

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The Next Chapter

Nun with Ruler dreamstime_12895823

It’s unbelieveable. At last count, I’ve sold over a hundred copies of my book since publishing it on Amazon in July. I’d never thought much about getting my book out there, simply wanted to finish it. Now, I’ve begun the next one, which will be a continuation of the first–a peek at how it is for a longtime nun to transition from one world to another.

Initially, I hesitated to write another book about me, me, me. The well established convent voices in my head, shook their accusing fingers at me and scolded,

Concentrate on others, dear Sister, and upon God.  Don’t let yourself succumb to your feelings and your own selfish, sinful desires

In spite of the fact that I no longer believe such nonsense, the voices have continued to wheedle at me over the years. At times, when I think I’ve nearly conquered their debilitating words, they return. Or I have my recurring convent nightmare. However, within or without my convent mind, I’ve begun to write again. About what it has been like, to try and leave the convent behind.

Stay tuned.

Rule of Silence

During my early years as a nun, I resented the Rule of Silence that was forced upon us.

Now I often crave the quiet.

I bask in the stillness and seek it out in order to make sense of it all.

From the Parabola magazine:

“As my prayer become more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
– which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.”

–Søren Kierkegaard, quoted by Joachim Berendt in “The Third Ear,” translated by Tim Nevill (Shaftsbury, England: Element Books, 1988).

Where’s It Gone?

Where’s it gone?  My self-esteem. Don’t know if it’s because I spent so many years in the habit, humbling myself or if it’s simply because I’m human, but my sense of self-worth fluctuates downward a bit too often. I recently called a halt to my floundering three-year relationship with my significant other and I’ve been scraping bottom more than usual since. Funny thing how I measure my worth through someone else’s eyes–that someone who has rejected me.

Though I tap, use affirmations, read uplifting messages, and meditate daily, I spiral downhill. I rely on the steady encouragement of close friends, and yet still struggle. The face in the mirror looks back at me with sadness, even though I smile. “Oh well”, as Mom used to say “This too shall pass”.

I can only hope.

Today’s thought from the Sedona Journal of Enlightenment provides me with hope:  “Bring your hands to your heart and feel within every cell of your body, ‘I am divine love.’ Can you feel that? Allow every cell in your body to recognize this. From this divine, compassionate action of receiving you already comprehend and trust the gift of you. You are divine love. You are divine. You have always been and will always be.”

Falling

The rain has arrived and so has fall. Along with the leaves,  I’m falling ever so gradually into a new and unfamiliar lifestyle. Living alone. Bit by bit, I’m falling out of loneliness and into being okay by myself. My two cats keep me company and my home is small enough that I don’t feel lost.

Many years ago, I joined a communal life after having lived in a large family with seven other siblings. Then I  lived shoulder-to-shoulder and elbow-to-elbow within a community of nuns for nineteen years. After that, I continued to live with others–in and out of relationships–until now. I only lived alone for a brief time in between two of my relationships.

So it doesn’t feel right.

Friends tell me I should enjoy it, but I don’t.

Of course, being with someone doesn’t mean I was never lonely. I mostly felt alone in the convent, even though surrounded by others. I go into detail about this in my book. Which I’m still presenting to potential publishers. Eventually. By then, maybe I’ll be happy living by myself.

Until then, I continue to sometimes stumble

and fall.