Saturday, September 6, 2008

Practical Jokes

Religious Life 101--A brief lesson to set context:

In formation, you learn the Religious Life "lingo" pretty of the buzz words of formation is "Family Systems". You get some speakers on it, maybe read a bit about it, encounter it when the flares are up in the novitiate. It's basically, the "rules" (spoken and unspoken) that families have that affect us as we grow older. In Religious Life, living with other adult women who are not related to each other, usually brings together many unique personality types. It's how you negotiate your life together that builds community and understanding your own "family system" and what "rules" you are bound by or react to in relationship to the other "rules" and systems that the Sisters with whom you live are at play.

So...I am predisposed to humor, sarcasm, and a good, healthy practical joke now and again. I can't help it! It was one of those core values that ran deep though my family system. I grew up hearing the stories of my mom and her 4 brothers and all of the shenanigans they pulled--in and out of Catholic schools, camping, you name it--those Taylor kids did it! My sisters and cousins learned the ropes quickly as our uncles were training us for the real world--either you were two steps ahead, or you got squashed by what ever joke they were playing and then you learned! Ha! Even in the extended family...we had "Large group" practical jokes...oh like a traveling plaster Greek Goddess statue, an ugly plastic bow that would find itself on presents (that went around for like 15 years) get the idea. My mom (the catalyst of most of the Taylor mischief), had one rule: "Practical jokes are ok as long as no one gets hurt and nothing gets destroyed" problem mom! The world was our oyster...and we had great models! Mom and uncles...this blog's for you!

Naturally, when I entered the community, it was only right to start finding out who else had this predisposition to practical joking. Fortunately...I was blessed with Sisters who indeed had a dry sarcasm that can keep us laughing for hours and some very good practical jokers ( goes back in our community's history...those "serious young sisters" were just TROUBLE)!

One Sister in particular (and trust me, it's always the quiet ones)...she has had a LONG history of great jokes. She even sent one of our sisters BUGS in the MAIL...ew! So I have been fortunate to have taken in many of the stories. So this is the story of our Sister Maureen (Moe)...

Meet Moe: Hi Moe!

You see she looks all innocent in this picture...she's on retreat and she's doing her prayer mandala. BUT...there is a serious practical joker behind that aura of peace and calmness.

Moe loves many things. 2 things that Moe REALLY loves are: Leon's Frozen Custard and Dunkin' Donuts. When in Milwaukee one must stop often at Leon's when accompanying Maureen to and fro, hither or tither...there is always a necessary Leon's stop. Milwaukee is a little low on Dunkin's; however, sometimes she'll want to go there. But when Moe is in Chicago...Dunkin's is a regular stop...and Maureen has creative ways of getting her fix as does Mary Ann have creative ways of making her earn it!

Last weekend...I just so happened to be in Chicago with two of my favorite people...chillin' and hanging out. Luckily, Sr. Mary Ann has similar predispositions to humor/jokes that I do (actually, I learn so much from her in this area!). Upon finishing a lovely liturgy at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish...Sr. Mary Ann thoughtfully pulls into a Dunkin' Donuts and gets us some coffee and muffins. Aww....

Now, in community we do share all things in common--that's part of our vows, our constitution, and our commitment. It would have been rude of us not to include our dear Sister Maureen into our thoughts that morning, knowingly eating and drinking coffee and muffins from her favorite place. So we thoughtfully picked up the phone and called her. In community...where two or three are gathered, enjoying DD...there Maureen is too. We called her just to let her know that we were thinking of her. Aw...that was really a sweet gesture on our part.

Upon completing our phone conversation, we were sitting around the table trying to think of other ways to torture, oops! I meant to share the love and care for our Sister. We thought about mailing our DD garbage to that she too could partake in the physical experience of our breakfast that morning. Luckily, I remembered that she was coming to Milwaukee this weekend and I offered to take the garbage and create a lovely representation of our time together...something tangible...something uniquely for her. There was really only one thing to do...Make a Dunkin Mobile...

I laminated our crumby muffin wrappers--this was excitedly disgusting...I can't believe I put crumbs in a laminator--(um...I won't say where the laminator was from...I know who reads my blog!), used the DD bag and tissue, as well as Mary Ann and my used coffee cups..complete with coffee residue on the inside and out. I made a wonderful mobile for our Sister Maureen and hung it above her bed for her arrival.

We Franciscans believe seriously in hospitality...when you come to stay at our house...we'll have your mismatched towels and washcloth along with a cup on your bed. There will be a little "welcome note" from the Sisters in the house. Sometimes I put some chocolate out for people who I know would appreciate it.

I couldn't think of anything more Franciscan and hospitable than recycling used garbage from Dunkin Donuts--crafting it into an exquisite mobile--WOW! That's community. That's love. Sharing art and beauty. Being thoughtful to another Sister's likes. Acknowledging one's family system and honoring that tradition in one's self and in others....(I'm sure my community will be so proud that what I report about family systems is my predisposition to humor :-) )That's sharing in the spirit...wooo hoo hah hah hah!

Her reaction?? Well...see for yourself:


Anonymous said...

Maureen told us how much she loved that mobile--we heard all about it at the SGC meeting! Well done, you!

And yeah, a stay at any School Sister house would be incomplete without the mismatched towels. And mismatched sheets, too, for that matter. :)


Kelly_SSJ/A said... are too funny!!!! :) That is very clever though.

Anonymous said...

I better not get any donut crumbs on the next thing I laminate!! Guess Who?