Let me preface this by saying that I may be completely off base here. I mean there was that time in high school when the sister who taught my French class tapped her closely-trimmed, practically designed, nunnly hands on my desk and I caught sight of the single gold band on her left ring finger. I thought I'd uncovered a scandal so big that, well, I couldn't believe that she'd be so bold as to walk around blatantly advertising her illicit marriage. Needless to say, many, many years later some kinder, gentler and much wiser person explained to me the significance of her ring. I was pretty happy that I'd decided to let her secret stay just that.
Now, this is not nearly as scandalous a story, but I think I need to re-examine the vows that our dear sisters take. If I'm not mistaken, theirs are vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty; which would imply to me that a nun's life is simple, lacking in an overabundance of material goods. So this morning, when I volunteered to help my mother-in-law to clean out the kitchen at the school's convent, I mistakenly thought the entire job would be finished in a couple of hours. To say the very least, the job will continue into the next week, probably the next month and quite possibly until the dear sisters have long since settled into their new convent (which shouldn't take long, given the amount of stuff that was left in the old digs).
At present, I am running loads of place mats, potholders and dish towels through my laundry. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then one of the sister's forgot to embroider it on one of their many kitchen wall hangings. In the two hours I had allotted, we managed to NOT wash down the walls, NOT wash down the cabinets, NOT wash the inside of the cabinets (with what we found out today was nearly 50 years worth of accumulated kitchen paraphernalia), NOT sweep the floor, NOT wash the floor, NOT wash down the counter tops or NOT clean out any small appliances. We did, however, get a tremendous head start on sorting and boxing things up for the school's rummage sale this fall. (Ed Note: If you are in need of 30 different types of nutcrackers, spatulas of the wood, plastic, metal persuasion or any combination thereof, or perhaps you're just missing 7 colored wicker paper plate holders-only burned once...then you'll want to mark the rummage sale on your calendar.)
Don't misunderstand this little anecdote, either. I love the sisters who work with our kids. I truly feel that our children are loved by them as if they were their own. And having an opportunity to go "behind the habit" as it were, gives me a little insight into the lives that on the outside seem so perfectly simple. It also sheds a little light on my one extremely right-brained daughter, who leaves "stuff" in her wake as she moves throughout the house during the day, that maybe her considering becoming a nun isn't such a far reach for her after all.