I've been trying to figure out how to transition over to this new blog (an idea with which, as you can obviously tell, I have not been the most successful!), but it's been a challenge. That, in turn, I believe is most likely due to the fact that I haven't fully figured out how to handle any of the other transitions in my life .... so really, this is just par for the course.
For those of you who didn't know (or haven't picked up on it), I left the monastery in June. Long story that will be shared as I continue "The Story of a Vocation" as I get around to it. Waiting until I finished it, though, was just keeping me from the rest of this.
So I'm back in civilian life ...... though civilian life in transition, as I'm seriously looking at that order that I was "supposed to" go with all along (as you'll read in maybe Parts 4 and/or 5). But since I hadn't made final profession, I get to start from scratch all over again. This year is a time to just get my feet back under me; nothing serious/official until next year...... just visiting and connecting as I choose and/or desire.
Life as a "normal" person has had its moments, but for the most part it's been pretty good. I've most generally been able to play the avoidance game, get myself lost in my new life, and ignore all the big changes I've put myself through. But then, every once in a while, a moment slips in. And then, hard-core independent that I am, I have an issue or two.
Please understand --- I left the monastery strictly by my own choosing. I even made the comment to the prioress that this would have been a lot easier if I had been completely miserable and hated everyone. But the reality was that I truly loved the place and those people, and I had been given so unspeakably much in my time there ..... yet, at the same time, there's more to being a monastic that wonderful people and beautiful grounds.
I'm still in Loovul, still at the same job. If I saw myself leaving religious life completely, I might have been a little more hard-core about the name switch, but since I'm looking more to just switch communities, it keeps things unique and entertaining for these kids who have known me for two years as "Sr. Steph" --- even the administration still calls me that at times.
And now I'm having issues continuing with the typing of this post, as a certain little Pumpkinhead has decided to lay her chin on my touchpad and limit most of the access to my spacebar. I guess posting pictures of aforementioned kitten will have to come later.
Hmmmmm, if I slide the laptop away a bit, I have a little more access. We'll see how long this lasts before she decides to start nibbling my thumbs instead .....
Today I went on a Day of Reflection with some of the high school campus ministers in the area. I had already been planning on taking a personal day to catch up from Thanksgiving (they call it a break?!?!?), so when our campus minister emailed about an extra spot, I jumped at the opportunity to legitimize my absence (and lessen my slacker-induced guilt).
Thing is, it was all about Advent. How Advent really means "To come into being." About the importance of silence, and stepping back, and making time sacred. And discussing how we do that, and what helps us with that. And I'm just sitting there thinking about all my hiding places at the Hill, and the ritual of liturgical seasons at the Hill, and the O Antiphons at the Hill, and everything else that made life sacred while I was there. And knowing that I just walked away from all that. And knowing that I'm not sure how well I'll take to "just your average parish Advent" celebrations when I've become so steeped in the monastic community.
And then I began thinking about next weekend, when I'm going to be attending a retreat with that other community, and how I'm not sure how that will go either. After all, I was at that same location for a similarly-purposed retreat ten years ago in the height of my "Let's Go Nunsters" phase .... when I was working for, sometimes living with, and considering to be an honorary member of one of their local communities. Now, I've been away from it (and them) for ten years. What will it be like to go back to their holy ground? To be not at the monastery for that Advent Sunday? To be celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when it no longer is my monastery's patronal feast? Especially when it's time away ..... to think, discuss, discern, pray, share ......?
I think that was my problem today. There was time to stop and think. That's the killer for me.
Must. Over-busy. Myself.
Part of today, too, was the realization that, after five years in the monastery, I've got no one to go to. There's my roommate, who has her own discernment challenges. There are all her friends that I've become hooked up with, but they're still her friends. And then there are people from the monastery. And other people from the monastery. And, wait, what about .....? Oh yeah, that's right, she's a monastery person, too.
It's not that I'm not welcome there, because I very much am. And it's not that no one there wants to talk to me, because I'm sure many would be more than willing. But _I_ don't know how to. _I_ don't know how to deal with the fact that I feel like I just walked out on them. Even though I KNOW I didn't, they know I didn't, and I don't regret those five years for anything ..... it's still hard.
And I truly don't regret it. I guarantee that, had I entered the other community five years ago, there's no way I would have made it. When I made that comment to the monastery vocation director, she said: "You're exactly right. You would have left them, you wouldn't have gone anywhere else, and we all would have lost you. You needed to be here."
But just because it's right doesn't mean it's not hard.
And so I guess that brings me to one of the big ideas of Benedict (I'm still allowed to like the guy, right?) .....
Ten years later, and I feel like I'm right back where I started. Funny how life works, eh?