Thursday, June 25, 2009

Get Thee To A Nunnery . . .For Real???

In my list of reasons as to why I have not been blogging I quipped about personal computers not being allowed in the convent. By “personal computer” I mean a computer belonging solely to one person though there certainly are computers available to those living in community. I know this because I did consider seriously whether or not I was being called to live my life as a member of the First Order, to be a sister. Franciscans do not usually refer to themselves as monks and nuns but rather as brothers and sisters.

For as long as I can remember I felt called to a religious life. As a child being raised in a non-church going family I longed to go to church on Sunday mornings and CCD on Wednesday afternoons like all my friends were doing. Instead, I was home alone on Sunday mornings watching Davey and Goliath in claymation. In these early years I had no sense of different denominations and faith traditions. All I knew was that all the kids in my neighborhood were going to church except for me. The fact that they were all Catholic and I a cradle Episcopalian, though I didn’t really know it at the time, didn’t mean anything to me.

For many years I stumbled around wanting a relationship with God but not knowing how to foster that. Finally when in high school I had another group of friends who were Catholic. I now know that they must have been liberal and progressive Catholics because they took me in like I was the lost sheep. This was during the era of the Folk Mass so I was drawn to them and them to me through music. I attended the Catholic Church throughout high school never being confirmed and taking communion every Sunday.

When I got to college, I began to search again for a place to build on my relationship with God. I went to the Catholic Church for awhile, the Methodist church with my roommate, even sang in a Baptist choir for a year until I finally stumbled upon Canterbury the Episcopal student group. From that point to the present, I have been an active member of the Episcopal Church.

About fifteen years ago, I began to feel a yearning for something more, to be closer to God, to serve in a more profound way. This search led me to the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis, a community of individuals living our lives by a rule of life much like our first order brothers and sisters, but in the secular world. I was life-professed in 2003 after nearly six years in formation. During that time, I finally found the relationship with God that I had been searching for and hoping for for so long.

As I began to grow as a person, as a Christian, and as a Franciscan I started to feel that all too familiar tug pulling me to something deeper. I felt like I was being asked to consider a call to the first Order. It was ridiculous to consider such a radical call. I was married and was raising children, things that were not conducive to the monastic life. I pondered this question for several years.

When it became obvious to me that I needed to file for divorce, my first thought was that this was God opening the door for me to consider seriously this call. I agonized for several months over what to do. Because this whole notion seemed so “out there” I talked to only one person about it. And because God doesn’t want any decision to be made hastily (or easily) this period of discernment soon became complicated because of Weber coming into my life. Why did everything have to be so darn difficult to figure out?

As my marriage dissolved and my relationship with Weber grew, so did my level of confusion. I had no idea what God was calling me to do. I did tell Weber early on that I thought that I might be called to test my vocation in the First Order so I might not be the best person with whom to get involved. “OK”, he said and life went on. Almost daily my question of what I was supposed to be doing came up in my daily prayer and with some regularity it would come up in conversations between the two of us. We both came to the point of saying that we needed to be open to God and the answer would be revealed in God’s way and in God’s time.

We left for Assisi with me still wondering what I was being called to do.

Then, it was God’s time . . .