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Monday, April 21, 2008

Synthetic Connections

Many many moons ago, back in the summer between high school and college, back when I was focused on a future career in law enforcement, I went on several ride alongs with the City police department and the Deputies. And I usually rode with one Deputy in particular for I knew he and his family well.

That was a terrible summer, but wonderful just the same. It was the summer Mom attempted suicide and went into the hospital with my signature drying on the document that sent her there. It was the summer I learned that "home" doesn't really have any meaning for me, and the summer that gave me a taste of adulthood I shouldn't have had for many years, inagurated through the tragedy that was my family.

But that deputy and his family was one that took me under their wings, so no matter where I went, I had ready-made "families" who truly wanted the best for me. I'd always been a good student in school, I was never in any real trouble, and now, looking back, I believe that these wonderful people looked at the shambles of my family and the promise that seemed to be in front of me...and decided I might be a worthy cause.

That deputy was one of those people, and I was often able to go on ride alongs with him, which actually sort of surprised me. He was a stoic type, not prone to smiling but had a dry humor that one had to be quick, and even somewhat mature, to catch. But he had a heart of gold, and even as he didn't reveal affection for others in his speech, it was written all over the most profound actions in his life and the decisions he made.

Tonight, as I pour over the vocation materials sent to me by Sister J. all the way from the East Coast, I can't help but smile.

Because many years ago, while sitting in a squad car on a hot Minnesota summer day, he suggested to me, out of the blue, "You should become a nun." He paused there, and added, "A nun with a gun." And chuckled.


I never knew when he was really serious, but on that day, he looked at me quite seriously but I saw the mischevious glint in his eye, along with an expression of honest appraisal.

"No way!"

"Yup" he said, turning his eyes back to the road we were watching. "A nun. With a gun." And he chuckled again, softly, only to later return to this topic. I pretended to pout, and let me tell you...I had NO intention of becoming a nun! I was gonna be a cop...with a gun...maybe protecting nuns but that was it!

Fast forward seventeen years.

Last Saturday as the Sisters and I chatted after dinner, we discussed (very briefly) some of my history, and they learned that at one time I was indeed a cop, wearing a uniform and driving a squad...and carrying a gun.

Sister appraised me for a moment and then asked, "Do you still have a gun?"

I was a little taken aback by her question, but answered, "Yes, I still have a few."

She fired again, "Are you a good shot?"

I couldn't help but laugh. The other Sister was looking at the first in a peculiar manner, but also clearly amused.

When I didn't immediately answer, she asked her question again...she was really serious!

So I answered, "Yes...I used to be a good shot, but the last time I went shooting now was a couple years ago."

There I sat, in a convent, taking part in maybe one of the must unexpected conversations of my life! And yet I was amused...because as any police officer, former or current can attest...the general public is FASCINATED by the life and experiences of a cop.

And briefly, across my mind flashed the memory of the squad car and J., the deputy, saying, "..a nun with a gun."

It seems his voice echoes a bit.

And clearly, religious sisters maintain the same fascination as anyone else. Our conversation didn't go far...there's a lot more I could have said about guns and shooting, but yet it seemed that it was such an odd location for that conversation. After all, we'd just been before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we'd had a wonderful meal...and suddenly we were speaking of a tool of my past, even part of my attachment to the world. For I still own my gun, and I still enjoy shooting although I can't afford to go very often. Even a box of reloads are expensive to me.

And I have moral qualms to a certain degree; because I learned to shoot at human silhouettes, which was proper for my training. And I still like to shoot at silhouettes, for if I ever use my gun in self-defense, I won't be shooting at a bulls-eye...I'll be shooting at an attacker and I still need to train for those deadly shots.

How warped I am, in so many ways.

Oh, look....I've gone off track again.

Today I was thinking about the connections we make with the past, and how God speaks to us through our pasts, and how those things echo into the future we can't see...but He can. And how the Lord must chuckle at the unintended humor in our lives and choices.

In class, we speak of the synthetic connections that reveal the Messiah through scriptures, and we speak of great Saints such as St. Thomas Aquinas, who was able to synthesize all the early Church Fathers within his great works. All of life is a doesn't just apply to theology.

Things from our past often point to our future, and our memories...they aren't accidental. It's not to say that a particular memory or situation or even synthesis reveals the final outcome, but rather, it points us towards a greater Divine plan in our lives, something that far transcends us and makes us look back somewhat sheepishly as we consider words and attitudes from long ago.

Here I am, eating my words, considering becoming a nun, I still have my gun, and you know...I have a couple tattoos, too. How bizarre.

No, I don't know where this is going, and I don't know what I'm gong to learn in the upcoming months, or even years. But I DO realize that things are unfolding according to God's plan, and it is my job to walk along, taking the next reasonable step. Am I supposed to be a Sister? I don't know. Maybe, Maybe not. Or maybe not now, but at some point in the distant future. Or maybe next week I'll meet the man destined to become my husband.

Or perhaps I'll be hit by a cement truck while mailing a letter and find that I am a pilgrim no longer.

Life is fascinating, is it not? We all have stories, and they contain such depth and so many dimensions. A few years ago, for a short time, I did have a spiritual director, and he told me to learn to look at my life as a story told by God, and see it through his eyes. I think that's still happening, and I pass that advice on to everyone. We get so locked into our own perceptions, but there is another perspective, if we are willing to allow God to show it to us. It doesn't happen instantaneously, but over time, we begin to make connections. And always...those connections bring us closer to the God who loves us so much that He called us from eternity and into being.

It's amazing to begin to see life from new eyes. It's amazing to realize that we can ask for this gift and if we are patient, God will reveal the synthesis of our very lives.


Cow Bike Rider (alias, Chris Sagsveen) said...

My prayers are with you as you patiently await God's direction.

God Bless You!

uncle jim said...

your concluding remarks about learning "... to look at my life as a story told by God, and see it through his eyes." strikes me as good 'direction'. [i've linked to you on this one]

Equus nom Veritas said...

Funny, I had been discerning becoming a priest with a gun for a while--though now my life seems to be moving in a different direction. I will pray for you, and for your discernment.

Anonymous said...

Dear Adoro,

Isn't God great? Blessings to you as you ponder how to connect your past with the wonderful future God has planned for you.


Ray from MN said...

Have Gun, Will Travel

Wire Sister Adoro

Kansas City

[for you youngsters, Google "paladin"]

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I hope you don't get hit by a cement truck.

Heeheehee, "nun with a gun" has a nice ring to it!

Maureen said...

Technically, that would be "nun with a community gun". :)

Just stay away from the Poor Clares Special Action Directorate and the Swiss Guard Ninja Elite. :)

ignorant redneck said...

I'll be so happy when I hear of your investiture, and even more so when you take perpetual vows.

I don't see this ending any other way.

Anonymous said...

First, IR... I miss you!
Second, keep up the prayerful discernment. But realize some things WILL have to go if/when you enter... and I have a strong suspicion the gun is one of them.

You KNOW you're in my prayers, and am hoping you make it down here sooner than later...


Adoro te Devote said...

IR ~ Don't be so quick...I have 2 friends who discerned their Call to religious life. One just knew that's where she was headed, really desired it...and then met her husband. The other had discerned, had chosen her community...and met her husband. The former, I'm not too surprised. But the latter...well, I was CERTAIN I'd be calling her "Sister". Not so much. Now I'm calling her "Mrs." LOL!

Sister ~ What!? NO! If I can't bring my guns and my dog, I'm not going. (They match the tattoos...)