Monday, September 05, 2005

A Delayed Duping

Things from last week's readings that I wanted to post, but between school and the hurricane didn't quite get to ...

Anyway, it was the ever-favorite "You duped me, oh Lord, and I let myself be duped" out of Jeremiah. The priest saying Mass that day was actually describing it more as being along the lines of "You manipulated me, oh Lord." He spoke of how Jeremiah just wanted to lead a nice quiet normal life with lots of friends, but no.... He even tried to keep his mouth shut, but that didn't work either. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it. God's word becomes a fiery coal that he cannot keep in.

Taken in this context, this passage fits religious life even more so than I've usually noticed. At least, speaking for myself, this choice didn't exactly seem like the set-up for a "nice quiet normal life"; some people even end up being mocked for making this choice. And yet, I'm here, we're here. I'm definitely NOT a nun (in my mind), didn't want to be one (not because there's anything wrong with them, more that I'm not "good enough"), came kicking and screaming every step of the way. And yet, I'm here. The summer before I entered, I had these repetitive conversations with friends. "I don't wanna leave." Then don't go. "But I have to." Why? "I don't know." ... It was just always there. Even when I ignored it, it was still there, lurking under the surface, until I reached the point where I finally said, "OK, let's just go ahead and do this nun-thing already so I can get on with my life."

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" while Paul tells the Romans: "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God."

Even as an object of laughter and mocking .... well, that's what happens when you don't "fit in." God's ways are not the world's ways. I know that being in "a Benedictine monastery in the middle of Nowheresville, Indiana, forever" is definitely not what I had planned for my life. And yet ... it is in being here that I am finding my life, myself, my voice.

Chapter Four of the Rule of Benedict details "The Tools for Good Works" ... one of which sprung to mind with these readings: Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else. Well, I'm definitely not following the "world's way" of acting ..... nor did Jeremiah ... or Paul ... or any of the others among us who choose the counter-cultural lifestyle of community. It's a good ride, but a rough ride too sometimes.


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