This is one of the best weeks to be a teacher... because you're off all week. Our sisters usually use this week to visit other convents, their family, and friends. It is nice to have some less structured time to be able to nurture the relationships that God gives us.
I went to visit a sister who I am good friends with last night and I stayed over at her convent. We had a wonderful time catching up on everything going on at the convents, talking about community stuff, and taking notes on school things (we both teach the same age group... which means good ideas from one another!) It was so life-giving to spend some time with someone who really is a friend in the spiritual sense. You can't share with everyone your struggles, imperfections, successes and heartaches.
I'm thrilled to see the world picking up on growth in religious life for many communities, especially in the recent spotlight on the Nashville Dominicans. I would hate for anyone to think I'm being petty, but it isn't the same for all communities who are really faithful. My community has always been faithful to Church teaching and we just aren't growing in the same way they are so I have a different experience of community life than some of those sisters do, which is good, not a bad thing! I'd just like to give voice to my own experience.
I was realizing the other day that I really have no day to day contact with peers. The sisters with whom I live are all older and I teach middle school students. I love community and I love school but there are times when I miss very much the interaction I have with people of my own age. The sisters with whom I live are very intentional in allowing me to be young... in fact I think it entertains them to entertain me but they sometimes can't relate to everything going on in my life.
That's why it is so great for me to have a religious who is a friend. We have the same generational experiences and so she helps me to be able to understand my struggles and joys in the context of religious life and my own life experience in a way that someone much older wouldn't be able to. It isn't a downplay of the older sisters at all. They offer me wisdom and example that I can't get from anywhere else. They challenge me to live religious life radically. They just might not be able to sing along to the same song on the radio or go to a freezing cold soccer game.
There also comes the points of temptation in our world now. Many things that come on the TV or movies or out of our student's mouths are not up to Catholic moral standards. I hate to say this but... it goes over the older sisters heads sometimes. A rainbow to them means hope, to me it means homosexual rights. The word gay means happy to them. Eminem is a candy, not a rapper. A player is in a board game... not the dating world... The list could go on and on (I tried to use the most G-rated examples I could think of!) But this doesn't even mention the unwanted attention I receive sometimes as a young sister in a habit that can only be described as inappropriate that they might see as being complimentary.
We all have to talk about it, and I'm grateful to have a friend who gets it and can offer solutions and support for all the ins and outs of religious life in our world right now. Hopefully, I do the same.