Wednesday, March 6, 2013

the boundary



I sit with my feet propped up, looking out the window at the "real" snow—the kind that sticks on the ground and seems to go on forever. My Southern roots already lament the moment when this magic will stop. A candle flickers; classical music plays; my tea gets colder and colder with each passing note. I sit, gazing out at the convent of bustling young nuns across the street, wondering if I will catch a glimpse of one of their royal blue habits. Already the light plays with my eyes, the windows taunt me. Did one just whip by? Are they standing by the door? Or is it just my imagination? I’d like to give them a call.

Come out and let’s wave to each other across the street! Let’s yell across the yard how miraculous this snow is and admire the dusting of God! Let’s throw snow balls at each other the way you throw grass lovingly at your sisters embarking on their missions!

Then I remember they don’t have personal phones. Or Facebook pages. Or Twitter accounts. Then I remember they are nuns in a community and I am not. Though they are always welcoming, I can only barely enter their world, just as they cannot enter fully into mine. This border seems harder to cross than so many others because it is invisible. And so I must wait for prescribed times of visit or stolen moments like the other morning, when I bumped into a small group of them on my way to the bus stop. 

I felt like we were best friends then, young women all going to the bus stop, laughing and talking, bringing grandeur to an otherwise ordinary human activity. But the difference was undeniable—their gray and blue habits radiated simple beauty compared to my layers and layers of clothing. I almost felt uncomfortable, stifled by all the baggage I carried--like a clown drowning in unnatural make-up and parading in a loud outfit. They seemed so free in blue and gray.

I know that the care and love felt among us is real. I know the hugs and jokes and reflections shared when I go over to their house on the first Friday of the month are genuine.  But I also knew that I am not one of them.

And so I sit, gazing out at the convent of bustling young nuns across the street, wondering if I will catch a glimpse of one of their royal blue habits through the windows. The candlelight flickers; the classical music continues, but my tea is cold.

It is not solely the street that divides us.