I sat in the second to last pew of the Siena Center’s incredible mid-century designed chapel next to a super old nun who was in a wheel chair. We were the only two holding down the fort.
She had called me over to sit next to her the moment I arrived and I was grateful. Her wrinked face told me how much wisdom she had and I was so happy to talk with her because I’m fascinated by all the ways people see God and I suspected she’d share what she sees with me.
After learning I was at the center for a silent meditation retreat, she suggested she teach me how to pray and I teach her how to meditate.
Half way through my guided meditation she took my hand, interrupting our practice. She had noticed my tattoo that I thought I had hidden behind my long sleeve shirt. She pulled my sleeve back and I braced myself praying (just like she taught me) that she didn’t have a ruler or any other instrument people always describe while telling angry nun stories. She smiled.
We paused and then she started to pull up her nun-skirt ( what do you call those things?) and pointed to a small tattoo on her ankle. I nearly died right their under the crucified Jesus.
“I wasn’t always a nun” she said with a smirky mischievous smile, one I’ve had on my face for the better part of my whole life.
“clearly” I said, laughing so hard the bench was shaking. “Do you regret it?” I asked
“Hell no! We are all the sum of our history.. don’t ever forget that”
Here’s an essay from my last silent retreat at this beautiful monastery
- The first hour of the first day: Journal entries from a silent retreat….
- Silent Retreat: The last hour of the last day
- Why Silence is essential