Sister Miriam and what makes her groovy
I have really mastered the art of being critical. Especially when it comes to the "Catholic Famous". Is it just me, or does every Catholic woman suddenly have her own radio show, book deal, and speaking engagement?
Ok. Maybe not every Catholic woman. Just the ones I follow on twitter. And I have to say, even Catholic social media can make you feel less than you are. Did you know that they have contests for the hippest Catholic? And that when cool Catholic conferences are happening, you get to sit back and read about all of the great Catholics who get invited to these engagements, wondering, how can I be that Catholic? Unfortunately, the crucifix around your neck does not protect you from the envy, jealousy, or comparison, that social media often results in. If it did, I would wear at least 25 crucifixes at a time. And surely, I'd have my own radio show.
And so I listen to them, and I listen to their guests, and I listen to that sly voice that tells me, "I am so much better than they are. Why them? Why not me? I could do this. Please, a monkey could do this." This thing that I do, I hate, and yet, I can do it without even having to think about doing it. That's the deal with our small sins...they become habitual to the point of unrecognizable; we see them as small, and so what does it matter? And yet, they eat away at us, chewing the flesh from our hearts, keeping us from being what we are meant for.
And so when I heard Sister Miriam James on Leah Darrow's podcast (who by the way, I did not criticize but made it a point to say out loud to absolutely nobody while I cleaned the toilet, "she is actually good at this", because I am sure Leah really cares about what I think) I stopped in my tracks, put down my encyclopedia of criticisms, and listened carefully to what she had to say.
On social media, she is known as #onegroovynun. And groovy she is. I don't know about you, but although I like to imagine myself as a nun sometimes, I also have been convinced that the religious life is not for women like me. And not because I am married with four children. That's too obvious and I am not that dumb. I am talking about the woman I was before the marriage vows. Before the four children. Her. SHE could never have been a religious.
Do you feel that way, ever? Do you look at your past and cringe thinking "WHAT was I thinking?" Because I do. Almost every day. And by the past, I am not only talking about High School or college days...I can look back at yesterday when my husband came home from work and I greeted him less than lovingly and think, "What was I thinking?"
In Leah's podcast, Sister Miriam...the thing that she said that had hooked me within minutes were these words..."Conversion is not just a one time big experience. It is a daily, constant thing." And honestly, I am sure those were not her exact words...so don't quote me or her on that...however, if she were to read this, I think she would approve of the "gist of it". I think we all aim for perfection, and anything less than that is considered failure. I think the thought of waking up everyday to a new start is nice, but once we trip up we call it quits, pour a drink or eat a brownie because hey, we messed up, and so what is the point? We know life is a journey...but journeys are just so dang long...and in this world of immediate everything, who has the patience for that? Clearly, not me.
I am at an interesting place in my life right now. While I am still growing and learning and needing to experience conversion over and over again in my own broken life, I am also trying to guide my children on their own path. And it is one thing to recognize your own twisted and screwed up road, but to see your children on their own screwed up, twisted road? That is the sword that pierces a mother's heart. That is the sword I want gone.
But back to Sister Miriam.
Her road, her success, her life, while looking good on paper, was a mess of abuse, addiction, and emptiness. But God broke through. He sent people, he sent a Priest, he sent counselors...every encounter in her life was a deliberate piece placed by the loving hand of God in the puzzle picture that lead her to the place she belonged; the place she had been searching for. But what had me stand up, put the toilet brush down, and immediately order her book was when she told Leah that she had no idea that when she was lost and living a life her parents did not approve of, her mother got down on her knees, and gave her to Mary. "My mother placed me in Mary's hands and asked her to take care of me, watch over me, and protect me. From that moment on, completely unbeknownst to me, as I was in college eight hundred miles away living in addiction and mortal sin, my mother prayed steadfastly that I would become a nun. And here I am today."
Did you read that mamas?
Have you bought her book yet?
Here. I will make it easy for you.
And if you don't have the money, email me.
I will send you my copy.
This is a must read.
It is funny how and when stories hit us.
I see so much of my younger self in Sister Miriam, and yet, it is the story of her mother that I truly needed to hear. I had nearly given up on my early morning prayers. I mean, I was still planning on saying them...but I am not so sure I was going to pray them. I had begun to think my tears were a total waste of time. I was at the start of losing hope.
Sister Miriam, you are one groovy nun. Your timing in my life could not have come at a more perfect time. I cried through out your entire story, and you opened my heart up to so many things I had buried, locked up in dark tombs, and stuffed and starved and hidden away. But the greatest gift you have given to me is the reminder of the power of the prayer that flows from the heart of a mother. I know so many mamas today that have swords piercing their hearts. And while we know that we need to trust and never lose hope, there is always that what if...what if my child's story doesn't end well...what if my kid is the one that doesn't make it through? Your story shines so much light into what can often feel like a hopeless, out of our control, situation for mothers. You remind us that we do not see the big picture that only God can, and that this journey, while often so painful, and long, is so worth it. No matter how it ends. He works all things for good. You remind us to never underestimate our prayers, and tears, and that while we may feel like we are helpless, we are actually incredibly effective. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and please... kiss your mom and give her a hug and tell her thank you. Her prayers have reached my own heart, and will encourage me daily, as I sorrowfully get on bended knees before Mary, handing over to her my most precious children to care for, knowing that they are in better hands than my own.