Back in 2010, every week night, after the 10:00 pm local evening news, I watched Oprah. This was my way of unwinding after long, stressful days. I started this ritual when Josh was an infant. The only peace, quiet and solitude I had was when he finally fell asleep. Also, this was my sole source of adult, intelligent, stimulating conversation and entertainment. Every Monday through Friday, I really looked forward to this respite. Fast forward almost two decades…life hasn’t changed. I still craved my regular fix of late-night T.V. Oprah…Thanks for helping me through such trying times!
One show that particularly caught my interest aired in February, 2010. It featured the first non-Japanese Geisha and a group of cloistered nuns living in a convent outside of Detroit. Their stories were shared by Lisa Ling, who had the opportunity to experience both lifestyles firsthand.
She traveled to the Orient, spent time with the Geisha, and had a taste of this time-honored, exotic way of life.
Following that whirlwind adventure, Lisa then spent the night at the convent with the nuns. Imagining myself in her position, I could definitely picture myself traveling around Japan in a rickshaw, experiencing the culture, customs and traditions, being served tea (my favorite drink!) and totally immersing myself in that way of life.
Spending time in a convent, on the other hand, wasn’t for me. First of all, as a Jewish woman, I knew I wouldn’t fit in or be accepted.
Actually, I never understood why any woman would voluntarily become a nun.
However, if given the opportunity, I would love to sit down and discuss this topic with any sister who would be interested in talking with me about this openly and honestly.
Getting back to the show, the nuns talked about all they gave up to join the convent: sex, their careers, the possibility of having and raising children and their material possessions. Their meals were all eaten in silence. In addition, speaking wasn’t allowed at other set times during the day. They willingly dedicated and devoted their lives to Jesus Christ, as his collective wives.
Watching and listening to their responses, I have to say, they all seemed really happy, almost giddy, actually. They made it sound like life in the convent was a lot of fun. In fact, one of the video clips of cloistered life showed the nuns playing floor hockey, scrabble and cards. In a way, it looked like a sorority house. One of the sisters interviewed said that she never went anywhere in the convent without her BlackBerry. (Remember…this was 2010, before the IPhone came out!) Imagine that, I didn’t even own a BlackBerry. Another sister declared that by becoming a nun, it freed her to be who she was truly meant to be.
The more I tuned in, the more enlightened I became.
I started to think that maybe these sisters were on to something.
As I contemplated their lifestyle and all the things they gave up when they took their vows, I realized that aside from having children (which I’m totally grateful for and wouldn’t trade for anything in the world) I somehow, without my consent or knowledge, wound up making similar vows when I married Dick…chastity, poverty, giving up my career to worship and devote my life to my marriage to “God.” (*Actually in my mother-in-law’s eyes, I really did marry the Lord. I’m sure she couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel blessed, appreciative and honored to serve her son in every possible way.)
For many years, I ate my meals without any conversation. I was silenced several times during the day as well. My life and the nuns were actually pretty similar in many ways. However, whereas the sisters were jubilant, I was miserable.
Then another though crossed my mind. These women didn’t ever have to worry about where they were going to live or how they were going to pay their bills. Nor would they ever have to concern themselves about obtaining their own health insurance. There’s no question that divorce would never be an issue. Their husband would never compare them with other women or leave them for another. Arguing with their spouse was totally out of the question. Their clothes would never go out of style.
No wonder all these women looked so joyful.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that these sisters really had their act together.