Sunday, September 14, 2008

TINGLY HAPPYS, LOVE, CHALLENGES--Lisa's Wedding (and the thoughts which ensued)

WOW! What a weekend....I'll give you a brief synopsis (WATCH THE's worth it) and then I actually have some thoughts to share!

Ok...the low-down in 100 words or less:

Lisa (one of my best friends) got MARRIED this weekend! She and her (now) husband Jake had a lovely outdoor, woodsie, nature--go hug some trees wedding and reception. I was honored to have been asked to be the "Mistress of Ceremonies" for the wedding prayer service. It was really a nice experience searching for prayers/transitions and adding a little bit of my own thoughts to make this prayer service personal and wonderful for Jake and Lisa. It truly was lovely. I haven't enjoyed myself this much in a long time...I am so happy for them! Watch the video...see pictures...woo hoo! Need more of the nitty grittys to cure that insatiable curiosity that the VIDEO can't curb? Visit the wedding site of Jake and Lisa.

And thoughts....(brace yourself) thoughts started on the car ride up to Medford, WI (5 hours away from Milwaukee). I was so grateful that my friend Shemagne agreed to be my travel buddy and "wedding date". I could tell that my brain was on hyperspeed overdrive; I don't think I was nervous, well maybe a little, but I think I just needed to wind down from my week at work and I knew I had to be "on" all weekend. Don't get me wrong...there's nothing I'd rather be "on" for than seeing someone I love commit themselves to someone they love! I digress....

So my friend Shemagne asked me something like, what do you think love is? (Or how do you know you're in love? you get the idea) At first I thought...ugh...I don't want to talk about So I said, "Let me think about it a minute." Now...I have spent some serious time thinking about this in my recent past. C'mon...I just made my vows a year ago...and I was thinking about this love stuff way before that!

I replied to Shemagne, "Well...I think the most profound love is deep within; the person challenges you to be the best version of yourself and you consider always what's best for the other." When I said that I thought, "Do I believe that?" So we pondered quietly for a few miles. My mind was racing again. What do you I believe that? DUH...of course I do.

Well...then I started thinking of the people that I love and care for very deeply. They do challenge me to continue being the best version of myself--and sometimes to be totally honest, that doesn't feel much like love--at least not right away. Sometimes these "challenges" to keep that becoming process moving, really challenge me to TRUST that these things are coming out of a space of love.

Obviously...a big part of LOVE is mutuality (that's a total nunland word) or I I challenge the people I love deeply? For me too...this love stuff always circles back to trust. Man oh man...

So...Shemagne and I solved all the world's problems dealing with and defining love. Yeah right...but we did have a thoughtful conversation. Now...what does this have to do with the WEDDING? Well...I'm getting there...chill.

There are a few givens when I am out socially with non-nun folk, who don't know me. There's the introductions by the friend who does know you, "Oh...this is my friend Katy, she's a nun." Or maybe people have already heard the news. As people feel more comfortable and realize that indeed I am pretty normal (ha ha!)...then the questions start. And you know...I love this...I love that people are interested enough to ask me about my lifestyle choice and that I get to respond with some reality to try and avoid the stereotypes.

Almost ALWAYS someone asks me, "Wow...a nun. is that for you?" I smile and enthusiastically share that it's GREAT for me. We all have to find our niche...where we can be most ourselves (and now I've added where we can be challenged to keep growing...EW), for me, it's in religious life and I truly couldn't be happier. a wedding...where people tend to be all gushy anyway...people recalling the love between their partners and themselves. People who haven't made the plunge yet are considering it. People who haven't found their life long challenger are hopeful. People who have found true love are get the picture.

In conversation, someone asked me, " this hard for you? You at a wedding?" (Yeah...I'm a little dense and replied, "No! I love dancing!" DUH KATY) so she clarified, " it hard because you'll never be in love and have this? You commit yourself totally to one person and know that they'll be there for you no matter what?"

Immediately I said (and my face matched), "NOOOOOOOOOO! This is of MY best friends just married a wonderful person. They compliment each other--a perfect fit. I have nothing but JOY for them." Then I explained my life choice and how it very much is connected to the same profound love, it's just expressed differently. And how much I am in love with what I have committed my life.

Well...I just couldn't shake that conversation and the impact it had on me...right in my gut and in my chest. I had this happen once before, when I was blessed to be present for Sydni's birth. My mom said, "Kate, now...after witnessing that [childbirth], do you ever wish you weren't a Sister?"

Let's see...I was gushy (well as gushy as I get) during this celebration...I was all tingly and happy. I was touched in a special way at thinking of Lisa committing her life to Jake. HER WHOLE LIFE. She was glowing, the joy was from the inside out and we were all there to witness and celebrate this.

I recalled my reception day and my vow day and immediately experienced that rush of joy and contentment that comes with when you commit yourself, your life to something/someone (which ever it may be) and there is no question whether this is the best way to give your love. Religious life, as in marriage, isn't about what you don't have. It's about where can you be your most authentic self, be at home, allow yourself to love and fall in love again and again, and challenged to be the best person you were created to become. WOW!

Yeah...I loved this wedding. I loved the opportunity to recall my commitment and choice in whom I've committed my life to. I could have possibly taken a pass at realizing that the people that challenge---and I'm not talking about whimpy challenges, people...I'm talking "make you squirm, want to run away, sometimes get mad at the challenger, no way Jose...and then you realized they're right (ooh I hate the you're right ones) biggo's---do it because there is a deep love between you--Nah...this is a helpful insight for where I'm at right now.

My little thoughts on BIG LOVE. I still know that my falling in love with my community is still emerging...and that's exciting. I also know that when I do experience these other "mega love fests" (I.e. weddings, babies being born, etc)...I experience much JOY for these people that I love committing themselves for LIFE .

I think my JOY or TINGLY HAPPYS...are experienced even more deeply because I know that I am deeply in love with what I have committed my life to.

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:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Best Cartoon Ever!

Two of my favorite noun turned adjective and/or verbs all wrapped into one cartoon that I just find very funny. I know this doesn't really count as a post...but I thought I'd share!