There is so much I love about my life, and those same things I love I also sometimes hate.
Then there are those things that I find are most important to me. For example: I love guys!
I don't mean in the flirtatious over-sexed significance of the "When-Harry-Met-Sally-Is-My-Bible" crowd, but naturally, without any weird pheremonal currents. I honestly enjoy the company and friendship of men and, dare I admit it...I often prefer their company to that of women.
There. I said it: I like to hang out with guys.
Mind you, the guys I like to hang out with are respectful, know their boundaries, are maybe married, or priests, or, well...not someone likely to hit on me. (And if they did I wouldn't hang out with them any more.) Single guys are just fine, too, but I don't look at single men as an opportunity to flirt. I put them on the same level as the others, simply enjoy their company and find that I can often better relate to them (guys in general) better than I can other women.
(As an aside: even though I do not believe I am called to marriage I am open to it and I would NEVER consider courting a man with whom I could not be good friends.)
That's not to say I don't love to hang out with my girlfriends. There is NOTHING like a good "Girl's Night"! But of course, the girls I like to hang out with are less into fashion and more into fun things like movies, dinner, humor....and nothing froofy.
I don't like "crafts" or "projects" or knitting or sewing, and demure games of cards tend to bore me to tears. Unless, of course, I'm playing Blackjack with my guyfriends and one of them keeps up a hilarious dealer-prattle that keeps us all in stitches and leads to the scandalous-sounding name of our favorite college game, "Asshole". (Sorry, but that's the name of it and I have very fond memories of holding that particular Title in two countries!)
You see? We're back to guys.
As I ponder my Vocation, I wonder about this. Fr. Loyola, in speaking about Theology of the Body on Relevant Radio, once commented that if one goes to any given event, one finds the men standing around the grill talking sports, and the women in the kitchen chatting about, well...woman things.
I'm sorry. I've had about all I can take of discussing potty training, home school curriculum, dress sizes, celebrities, and hair salons. In fact, I have NOTHING to say about ANY of that, nor can I relate to it. After all, I'm already potty-trained, at work I often deal with home-schoolers and discuss curriculum as it relates to my job, I hate talking about clothing sizes because shopping is the bane of my existence, and I only darken the door of a hair salon once per year, if that. What's more, the only people I respect less than politicians are "Celebrities". God save us from Celebrities and their devotees, especially if the devotees are mindless politicians!
To be fair, though, my married female friends actually are very good about saving those "marriage and family" conversations for when I'm not around, they're not into celebs, are too busy with real life to worry about fashion and, well, have better hair than mine but probably have other friends who are hair artists and do their hair while talking about potty training.
So you see, it all works out.
My single female friends, though...oy...come to think of it, I don't have a lot of them anymore. Those who are, are discerning Vocations to religious life, and they like crafts and cards and all sorts of things that make me go cross-eyed. (Wait...that's a genetic condition I've had since birth.) But you know what I mean.
It's such a struggle.
On one hand, I love what I have experienced of the religious life. I love the hours of prayer, I love the silence, the solitude, and the everyday work that keeps the "household" running. Although my first experience felt almost "industrial" to me in those big ol' kitchens, I'm sure over time it would feel more like a family event. After all, I'm from a very small family and we could have cooked on a hotplate.
Hmm....I think we did a couple times.
On the other hand, I think about the restrictions; my entire life would be with...other women. ONLY other women. Women who probably never had an interest in shooting, hand-to-hand-combat, Blackjack, Tequila shots, games called "Asshole", hanging out with guys at the grill talking about the Kentucky Derby instead of hanging with the ladies in the kitchen wearing checkered tableclothes as aprons, can't tell the difference between a leafspring and a modified McPhearson, ground effects from a spinner kit....etc.
Yes, yes, I know there are a myriad of personalities and experiences. I just wonder how the tomboys manage to become "one of the girls" and go from backyard campfires with the guys to knitting rosaries and crocheting veils while discussing the latest demure topic in the convent.
Believe me...my own bawdy humor does not go over well in the convent, even my most innocent of bawdiness.
In all seriousness, though, how can a woman who thinks "Fight Club" is a great movie, and jams to the opening tune of "Gone in 60 Seconds" enter into the utter and complete estrogen of the monastery?
This question, this ENTIRE POST, in fact, is rhetorical. Please don't try to answer it.
I assure you...you don't have the answers, and I haven't stated anything here that needs "fixing". Rather, I'm just offering, in complete honesty, a portion of the discernment process. And it's something a LOT of discerning women don't want to talk about. I'm sure to some, what I've said seems outright scandalous. To others, what I've said is EXACTLY what they're experiencing, too.
In the end, discernment isn't about our preferences; every Vocation requires a sacrifice. I don't feel called to marriage and seemed to be outright "released" from it a couple years ago at a friend's wedding. Perhaps part of my sacrifice is my relationship with men (chaste!), my backyard barbecues, talking shop with them about things most women can't discuss and don't want to (like guns and hunting and car theft...oh my!).
God calls whom He calls, He knows our true happiness, and as Psalm 139 reminds us, He "discerns our purpose from afar."
But knowing all these things, recognizing them as part of my discernment, doesn't change that sense of being a part of two worlds, sensing a draw to one world, while still holding onto the one I'm in.
The Latest Buzz...
Today I finally sent my response to the Passionists in St. Louis.
Yeah, I know I'd said I'm closing the door, but in talking it over with my Spiritual Director during Lent, he was pretty clear in that he wanted me to respond and take them up on their invitation.
The one thing I know about God: He takes obedience very seriously. And the one thing I learned from St. Francis de Sales and St. Catherine of Siena: obedience to the Spiritual Director is obedience to God Himself (unless one is being asked to commit a mortal sin), and the virtue of obedience is the key that opens Heaven.
So I have finally completed the letter and today, sent it out, accepting their invitation...should God will that it be so.
I know that as I get closer and closer to resolution, this sense of being torn apart is going to get more and more intense. I will have to make a decision, but until I can resolve a few things, a decision cannot be made. If I were to decide right now, at this moment, I would say "NO!", and that decision would be purely emotional. Why? Because discernment is hard and I'm sick to death of it and want nothing more than for it to be over. Instead, I'm looking deeper, knowing that the Truth has not yet been mined, and it won't be so without application of reason. Reason requires research and in this case, personal experience.
It is a classic case of Faith and Reason.
Oy...I'm Dominican, aren't I?