Well, It is 10:30 pm and I just got in the convent. I know you are probably thinking..."What are you doing out so late? Why would a nun be gone until 10:30? Was she at a wild party?" Okay, you might not ask the last one... but it's true. I was at a wild party.
I just got home from a Home and School Association function for the kids. I've been awake since 4:30 this morning and I have been working since then. That's apostolic religious life. I think sometimes people think that because we have more freedom in this way of life that we aren't "real sisters." Maybe they think that we don't pray enough. Maybe they don't think we should be out of the house as much. Maybe they think that because we are out, we aren't with community enough. I don't really know the exact reason. But I thought I would give a really realistic look at my life today. The real freedom is in being able to respond to God's movement, the needs of the people, and the structures of community living all at the same time.
I've already said what my normal day to day life looks like but this was a day full of schedule changes and special circumstances but it was also pretty awesome. My life is a real balancing act because I am a religious called to be apostolic - to go out into the world to do God's work. It is much different from being a monastic who, in addition to structured prayer and community life, does some ministry or work. Intrinsic to my vocation is being with the people as a faithful witness. This balancing act includes prayer, community, and apostolate and everyday is a different and new adventure.
Today after Mass at the nearby parish to which we drive each day, my sister principal and I stopped for a Dunkin Donuts treat on our drive back to school. Sometimes the kids give us a gift card and we save it for special occasions (with the permission of the superior) - like the beginning of standardized testing. We definitely needed the caffeine before a long day. Once I got to school I took all my test materials out of my closet and was trying to straighten up my desk before I had a meeting with my grade partners. For 40 minutes before school started we hashed it out (in a good way :) ) with our school counselor about a few kids with major issues. Then we picked our homeroom students up from the hall and brought them back to the room. As I took roll and got the kids unpacked they told me about Grandma being run over (I'm not kidding - she's ok but say a prayer for her if you can), a cousin who died, their punishment for not doing their homework and so on and so on.
When we were finished unpacking, we began our testing. I used the time between giving directions while they were filling in all those bubbles to pray my rosary as I walked around the room to make sure they were in the right section and taking their time.
When they were finished we had religion class, lunch, and then I had one science class. We said our afternoon prayers and I took my line down the street and said, "See you soon." I talked really entertaining "trash" on how I was going to beat them at the activity that night and they cracked up laughing. It was a fun walk at dismissal. After that I went back to close up the classroom. On my way out, a parent showed up about a demerit her child received from me. So I had an impromptu and unfortunate parent conference and then left to get an early dinner in the convent. I took my office book back to school with me and I was changing my decorations to Lent. I took a break to pray and continued working on my decorations and on grading copybooks.
At 7, I went to the HASA event. The kids were hilarious and we had a wonderful time. It was also time that they were not spending roaming the city streets or getting into trouble. It was time they spent working as a team, spending time with their teachers, parents, and friends, and just having wholesome fun. But here it is, 11:00 pm now, and I'm writing on my blog.
If I was in a community where prayers were solemn-high at night on a Friday - I wouldn't be there for these kids. I pray for them ALL the time. Prayer is vital to my life. However, as an apostolic religious I have to take it when I can get it and let it invade my life. The kids see that I pray. They see that I love God because they are such a priority in my life. They are there for so much of my prayer time. School isn't something I fit in... neither is prayer. They are both vital and frequently they overlap.
Basically, it's a great life. It's an exciting life. It's a challenging life. It's the life God has called me to live for Him. A stricter community is, objectively, more attractive to me; but I know the reason is because it would be easier for me (not for everyone, but for me). I hate having to work things in. I'm a very scheduled person and I hate having to be flexible. I have a difficult time being moved by the Spirit and going with God's will. I plan everything. I believe God has called me to what is more difficult for me to stretch me and change me. I have to find the time for each vital part of my life until they become one living reality. It is difficult but it is the most joyful.