Thursday, August 19, 2010

Get Thee To A Nunnery

I recently had to go to my local Catholic church to meet with one of the nuns there.  How is it that these places do not change?  Walking into the parish office in 2010 was like walking into the parish office in 1979.  It was hot, the waiting room didn't have chairs but ancient re-purposed pews from a long ago church upgrade, and was filled with the smell of judgment.

There I sat, a recovering Catholic with no interest at all in becoming a valued member of the church community.  Me, with my purple hair and zebra everywhere. I felt like that 7th grader all over again, the one that was called down to the Principal's office because I dared to wear make up to school.  That day big bad Sr. Mary Oppression told me, this scared 13 year old, that I looked like a whore on Prospect Ave.  There are lots of problems with that comparison, not the least of which being that in 1979, 13 year olds weren't nearly as worldly as they are now.  So not only did I not know where Prospect Ave. was, but I also didn't know what a whore was.  But I looked like one, apparently, because I slathered Maybelline Strawberry Kissing Potion on my lips and a little blue eye shadow on my lids.  By her tone and disapproving look, I knew it was bad to be a whore on Prospect Ave.

As I sat there on that hard pew with the too erect back, waiting for my meeting, here, now in 2010, my palms started to sweat.  I got that anxious feeling I had so often as a kid growing up wondering what I did wrong and what will happen to me.  I suddenly felt self conscious about everything.  When was the last time someone walked into the parish office with purple hair and asked to see one of the nuns?  Maybe never, maybe yesterday.  Who the fuck knows.  All I know is I suddenly felt like a 13 year old wearing forbidden make up.   Then I just had to remind myself of a few things.  Number one, I'm an adult and as such, I expect to be treated fairly.  Number two, I was doing this for a very important reason.  My niece has chosen me to be her Confirmation sponsor and I will do it for her.  I may not be the best person to guide her in her journey of Catholicism, but she could do much worse than me as her guide on other matters. 

When the sister in question came out to greet me and show me to her office, I was relieved that she was dressed casually and not in the penguin outfit of my youth.  But there was some concern because she was definitely not young.  To her credit, she did not give me the stinkeye upon meeting me.  In fact, she was warm and friendly.    She showed me to her office where we talked about what being a Confirmation sponsor entails.  We talked about how different people experience God or faith or a spirit or whatever you call it, in different ways.  She was open and interesting and dare I say, progressive, for a nun in her 70's.  But there are expectations involved with being a Confirmation sponsor and one of them is being a member of the church.   Was I willing to return to church regularly?  It was a question I dreaded.   My answer to that was as honest as I could possibly be, I'm willing to try.  In the end I don't think she believed I would actually go, but it was good enough and I was given my certificate.  I am now officially a Confirmation sponsor.  What the hell did I get myself into!

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