2006-01-31

The Beautiful Monastic Life is for Me

I have this cousin and he has this girlfriend and she's pretty young. I mean, he's young and she's young and they are totally young together.
Well, okay, theyíre probably like 26 or 27 but thatís not 30 and so itís young, dig?

They are very soon going to pack up and move across the country where they have an opportunity to work at a Convent Ė he will be starting an organic farm and she will be working as a seamstress. Theyíll be out in the country, near our Southern Illinois roots, and working for nuns. Iím totally jealous.

Nuns are beautiful.
They are not the evil, repressed characters that so many years of so many angry former Catholics have made them to be in so many movies. There are some who I have met that were ummmÖ. a problem. But most of the nuns I have known have been ladies that I am kind of enchanted by. They are educated and focused and live in Convents, where there are gardens and stained glass chapels and reflection pools and friends.
Itís like college only without drunken frat boys and sullen R.A.s and too much stuffed pizza at 4 in the morning.
I love Convents, or at least I love my romanticized version of them as being someplace where I could read all day and hang out with smart women discussing mythology and God and whatís going to be for dinner.
In fact, I love the idea of a monastic life and itís something I have considered long and hard for myself. In so many ways, a life dedicated to introspection and quiet reflection is absolutely the life for me. I could pray all day, if it was my job to do so.
I bet if I joined a Franciscan order, I could keep my pets and share them with the other sisters. Rosie sometimes looks like the little fawn that St. Frances is always holding.

Am I hung up on religion?
No, not really.
I talk about it a lot because I love the mythology and the stories that religions have for me to learn.
I believe thereís one powerful mother-fucker named G-O-Double D, but most of what is fascinating to me about anything god-related is the mythology. Itís the mythology names the different facets of God and since God is something that is conceptually so vast it is beyond the ability to fully understand. We understand that a flower is a flower. We canít possibly understand God. Itís just not possible hence mythology. We can break God down in to facets or characters and thatís what I loveÖ how different religions assign the many names of God.

I love the Catholic Saints, too. I canít find my Lives of the Saints, and I need to replace it ASAP because I miss reading about a Saint everyday. There are at least enough Saints that each of them has a feast dayÖ St. Felicityís feast day is my birthday. She was a minor martyr and if I remember correctly, not a virgin.
Catholicism is really mystical and a very cool religion if you remove the weirdness about sex.
Which brings me to why I donít think a Convent is the right place for me to explore my monastic tendencies.
I canít say that I would DIE if I married God and had to take a vow of celibacy. Thereís no way Iím going to discuss my real views on sex and sexuality but I will say openly that for some people, I can understand celibacy being a choice that actually works. Say what you will but I have enough personal experience to say, with confidence, that I can TOTALLY understand how a nun might be just fine without an active sex life.

The problem that I have with the weird sexual rules in Catholicism isnít political either, which surprises me, too. I staunchly and vocally do not believe that male tradition should have anything to do with making laws that affect things like birthing children. For the love of mercy, you know those over-the-counter medicines that work so well for you? They were never tested on women before LATE last century. Women werenít even considered.
I also believe that institutionalized sexism is real and intolerable and that it will be what prevents women from ever being equals in the workplace and in places like schools, jails, entertainment, and churches. Nothing infuriates me more than the fact that in order to get ahead, women have to be something different then men.
And youíre not allowed to talk about itÖ that blows my mind a lot lately. If I were to start a discussion, in mixed company, on institutionalized sexism, I can guarantee you that it would end with a frustrating comment about babies. Either I would throw up my hands in disgust and say something like, ďFine! Hereís progress: At least we go to college now and work for a few years before we go have babies! Fine! Keep your boys club and your poker nights and your golf outings. I donít need them because I have a WOMB.Ē
Or, my mixed company would say something like, ďWomen can do whatever they want and they always quit and have a kid. But I have to keep working.Ē
If there is an alternate ending, Iíve yet to see it. Could somebody burn me a copy of the DVD?

No one ever says that a guy who is having a bad day is emotional and unapproachable.
Same situation only substitute a girl for the guy?
All of a sudden you hear the magical phrase that makes me want to cut you: PMS.

Anyway.
The sexual part of monasticism that bugs me is the vanity part, or I guess the lack thereof. Most religions tie sex to vanity and looking cute to a lust for sexual attention.
I disagree.
I like being pretty and I donít really care who is checking me out. I sat on my couch for nine months and you better believe that I didnít let myself go during that time. I enjoy activities that are related to grooming and that result in my looking cuter. I like to pluck, to tan, to dress cute, and to blow dry my hair every single day. While I am sure I would be adorable in any old robe they give me, I bet they would take away my tweezers andÖ
Thatís not right.

I wonder if there is a monastic life somewhere that does allow vanity for the sake of the devotee.
I would totally sign up if I could keep my pets.

Can you imagine it?
You would walk in and be surrounded by the lush gardens, the fountains, the people quietly content to read or pray or visit with each other. You would immediately feel a sense of greater inner peace. You would notice that although the sign outside says ďConventĒ, the women inside look reallyÖ wellÖ not as hairy as you remember the nuns who taught you in high school. There are no unibrows, which feels weird but GOOD.
Why does everyoneís robe coordinated to their shoes?
But not matchy-matching?

Is she laying out?
I canít think of why else she would be lying on that chaise with her robe all pulled up to show her legs and pulled down to show her back. Maybe itís like some ritual resting position or something.

Oh hell no!
Is that a Shape magazine?

Okay.
This is weird, but I think I just saw a nun walk by with latex gloves and a bottle of hair dye.
Ahhhhh!
I did!

Ohmigod!!!
That one has foils in her hair!!!!!

DUDE>

Do you know what I just realized?
I donít want to be a nun at all.
I want to be a rich Scottsdale lady with so much time on her hands that she spends all of her days in the idyll company of other wealthy ladies at the spa.

Dammit, this is like the time that I totally thought I had figured out a place for the physical force, Gravity, in religion. I was convinced that I was a goddamn genius for figuring out that Gravity is the physical force that we could use to define God because without Gravity, we would not exist.
So I was going to a shrink at the time, and I told him that I am going to be a famous philosopher and scholar?
And he told me that The Big Bang had already been invented and that I wasnít thinking of anything new.

I still consider it extraordinary that I thought of my theory all by myself because I can tell you that if I was spending my days reading and praying?
I wouldnít be reading about The Big Bang.
I would be reading Self magazine and maybe Cosmopolitan.
For the articles.

arizonasarah at 4:49 p.m.

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