Do you remember being a kid and having a sort of inane obsession about something? My brother's was his custom made batman costume, mine were twofold - hats and being a nun.
I had forgotten about the nun focus until hearing a story on NPR on my way home from work last week. It was about a convent in Nashville that is flourishing whilst other nunneries across America are closing left and right. It was very inspiring, and full of all the things we should all want to be. And here we come to why the story resonated with me.
As a little girl I loved going to Jordan Marsh and trying on all of the hats in the ladies section, right next to the pantyhose; I did not care that the sales lady glared at me as if each hat I touched would burst into flames. I did not care that my mother didn't want me to touch them; they were fabulous and calling my name. There were wigs as well, but that is a whole other post.
Within this time frame I saw the movie "The Trouble with Angels" with Hayley Mills and Rosalind Russell. I was young, probably about five, and aside from loving Hayley Mills, I thought that one of the nuns in the movie, a very young and particularly beautiful nun, was the epitome of elegance and interestingly enough, style. It was the habit and coif, I am sure, that made me want to be a nun. The coif, so similar to a hat, but with a long flowing cloth attached under which I believed to cover long and flowing hair. And then there were the bell sleeves, the way in which their gowns flowed with them as they walked. It was dreamy, and on top of that, I had imagined that they wore high heels under those long lovely habits. I knew then that I had to be a nun, a beautiful, long haired, make up wearing, high heeled nun.
So, growing up in Florida, there are not a plethora of nuns or even convents for that matter. In fact, the state of Florida has only 40 monasteries and nunneries, none of which are in Fort Lauderdale, where I was. So, I did not get a chance to meet a real life nun until the age of seven. And this was the Time of the Great Disappointment, so named because I finally met a nun, and she was not my ideal.
I was visiting my grandmother in New York (where there are too many monasteries and nunneries to count) when I got my chance. We had gone to the post office (these were the days before email or texting or even cell phones) and my grandmother bumped into one of the nuns from her local church parish and proudly introduced me. I was polite, but devastated. This nun did not wear the beautiful flowing traditional habit, but rather a frumpy white nurse looking uniform, and there were no high heels! She wore the same sensible shoes you would imagine your old Aunt Ermengarde wearing and she definitely did not have on make up. Because she did not wear a traditional habit, but rather, a short sort of make shift head covering, I could see that she had short hair. And this was the deal breaker (short hair fact later confirmed whilst watching "The Sound of Music").
At seven, I had been fully prepared to be married to God. But, my plans involved being married to him with long hair and high heels. This whole short hair, plain jane, sensible shoe thing was not going to work. And just like that the dream was gone. I had to move on to better goals - like being a stewardess and at one time, going to beauty school to get my nail license to do nails - I know, dream BIG.
If you would like to be inspired by a more holy Nun's Tale, please check out NPR's story at http://www.npr.org/2010/12/22/131753494/for-these-young-nuns-habits-are-the-new-radical.