I’m getting ready to launch a “whodunit” featuring a nun detective on Kindle. A nun detective is nothing new, I guess, but Sister Francesca is MY nun
To lay the groundwork, I’m repurposing an earlier blog on nuns. What do you think?
Can you tell which one is me?
Maybe it was that “Nuns Having Fun” calendar a friend sent me. Or a dumb-nun joke someone told me last week. In any case, I’m moved to write about nuns.
First, a fact: Nuns aren’t cute. Little kids can be cute and, I suppose, small animals, though I’ve never seen the attraction.
Nuns are adults, usually well-educated and/or experienced at a significant skill like teaching, nursing, or praying.
So, why are nuns so often pictured as silly women, giggling at who knows what, sliding down a snowy hill as if they were fifth graders? Maybe real nuns posed for these photos, maybe for a good cause, like feeding pagan babies. But seeing them pedaling tricycles, using a swing set, or riding a carousel, their veils blowing in the breeze, makes me embarrassed for them.
It could be about sex, i.e., that nuns seem childish because they’re celibate. So, is having sex the only thing that makes us mature? Maybe it’s about the habit. But lots of people wear uniforms, from medical professionals to airline employees. They’re not generally ridiculed or made to look infantile.
The first nuns I met, the ones who inspired me to enter their order were college teachers. They taught physics, math, English lit. I watched them in chapel, in the lab, in the library. Never at an amusement park.
They had great faith and a great spirit of generosity. They were smart, and if they ever played hopscotch, it was out of camera range.
Recently I reconnected with a Sister I hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years. (Sister, by the way, is the more accurate term for the religious I’m talking about—those who have a mission that deals with lay people. Technically, only cloistered orders, who live a life of prayer without outside contact, are nuns.)
Sister MJ and I were in the same entering “band,” as we called it, and went our separate ways after final vows (well, final for her; for me, a step on my journey).
Sister MJ’s current mission is running a shelter for trafficked women. Along the way she has worked in Rome, learned to cut and style hair to service those who can’t afford regular salons, picked up social services and medical knowledge, and ministered to countless patients around the world. She deserves respect for what she has accomplished. I hope I never see her pictured on a rocking horse.
A language problem?
Could it be the language that sets Sisters up for a comic role? The fact that they invoke the saints instead of saying “f*&^ you?” That they’re more likely to say, “God be praised,” instead of “Damn, that was lucky.”
I have to admit there’s a language barrier for me when I visit women who are still in the order I once belonged to. They say “God bless you” the way most of us say “Have a nice day,” or “Take care, Dude.” And their offers of prayers leave me stymied.
Can a few Our Fathers really make my plane leave on time or my flu go away? Who knows? But I’m always grateful for the thought.