Tuesday, December 25, 2007


My lifestyle makes no sense.

I woke up this morning because the cat was ready for breakfast. When it is below freezing, his little 14-year-old bones are kept warm in my bedroom, but even though we still have several inches of snow on the ground, it is above freezing today, so I kicked his furry little behind outside this morning to feed him. He'll be back in by suppertime.

So after booting Francisco out into the harsh winter of Christmas Morning In Connecticut, I sat and drank my first cup of coffee and looked out my bedroom window, watching the crows ambling around the playground equipment and reflecting on my crazy life.

What is crazy is that I love my life and I am very happy here, happy to be in this congregation and happy to be a part of this particular mission and to live in this particular missionary cenacle ... and, at the very same time, I am so homesick. I want to be drinking coffee right now with Mama, and I want to see my Aunt Mary, and I miss my sisters and my brother and my nieces.... you get the idea. And more. I miss Maria and Maia and Jeff and Nikki and Adam from Dayton, and I miss Denise in Chicago and Sarah in Massachusetts.... And more. I miss christmases in Pensacola and the Lower East Side and Temascalapa.... I think the full moon on the snow on this rural New England landscape put me into this sentimental mode last night as we drove to midnight mass. I usually miss my family at Christmastime, who doesn't? But perhaps it's a bit over the top today.

I am homesick, but for a missionary this is a way of life. I get home when I can, which is never often enough, but it is what I have said Yes to, when I made my vows. But what I think I did not understand when I first said Yes was that I would begin to feel homesick for so many other places besides home. The day will come when I will be looking out of another window drinking my Christmas morning coffee and I will be missing life at Trinita. It is hard to hold so many places loosely, hard to know I can't keep it all, to know I can't (well, I mean I won't) say "I am staying here."

It is hard, but it is also a richness I could never have imagined when I first professed my vows. I carry in my heart like precious treasure the experiences of love and friendship and home of so many other places. It is crazy. This lifestyle makes no sense. People have told me to my face they think it's a crazy way to live. It's hard to argue the point, since I ultimately must concur with that conclusion. And yet, here I am. Looking out my office window on the snow and the mission cross, missing my mama and many others, and I would do this all over again in a flash. I am glad to be alive. I am very homesick, but I am also home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Family Day

Some people wonder what goes on here when it's not the summer. We just had our fifth Family day of 2007 this past weekend. Wouldn't you like to know what we did with 65 people of all ages crammed into this old house for an entire afternoon?

The theme was "The Holy Family." We started with a gathering in the Meeting Room, which can comfortably seat about 30 and uncomfortably seat about 50. We sang a few classic Trinita songs to warm the crowd up, including the ever-popular "I am a Pizza." Then Sr. Olivia gave a little presentation on various roles in society and in the family. To practice for her presentation earlier in the week, she handcuffed me to a lamp. But I was relieved that for the actual presentation, she only waved the handcuffs around and talked about policemen.

Then it was time for Peer Group. Sr. Joan took the babies and a few teen volunteers down into the Cenacle for babysitting. The Littles had storytime in one of the dorms upstairs, the middle kids got the dining room (there were about 20 or so of them) and the adults were divided by language. One group got the Meeting room, the other got the middle room. That left me with the smallest group of all (as usual), the teens. We sat on stools around the big steel table in the kitchen. Over the noise of the kids, and the freezer and refrigerator and oven exhaust fan, we practically had to read lips. It's ok, because the teens don't usually have that much to say. Instead, we do stuff. This time, we made muffins for our families. All during the Peer Group time, for over an hour, I am not sure what Sr. Olivia was doing. I think she was in her office drinking diet coke and listening to Linda Ronstadt. Or something.

Snacks. For the first time ever, we asked the families to bring snacks. We supplemented it with cheese and crackers and fresh fruit. That turned out to be more popular than most of what people brought to share. Usually snack time is about 30 minutes and the kids get to go out and blow off some steam on the playground. But it was cold and icy, so no going out. (We did have a few escapees make it to the slide but that did not last long.) Anyway, we were stuck inside this time. All 65 of us.

Games. I learned a valuable lesson. Six year olds do not see the humor of smearing vaseline on your face and sticking on cotton balls to make a santa beard. The other games went well enough. But man did the crowd get rowdy. I guess all that snack food and no running outside, and then the games, it was inevitable.

The family activity was making ornaments by stringing beads and Holy Family charms. We expected people to take their bags and go, since snow was impending, but no. They actually stayed and did the activity right there. We had families scattered all over the place, including offices and the dorms. They had a great time! It is always clear that the people have a great time, you can feel it at the goodbye time as they collect themselves and leave. We have a great time too. It is very very hard work. When they leave, we undertake the extensive clean-up. Then we have the traditional collapse on the couch, eat some easy meal (this time it was hummus, bean dip and taquitos) and watch a DVD. "Chronicles of Narnia."

That is Life at Trinita on a wintry Sunday in December.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I have been here for a year, but I still feel like a new arrival. It snowed a few weeks ago, less than an inch but enough to make everything turn white, enough for me to get excited and continually look out the window. We got some more winter weather this weekend, and I still find it amazing. Ooh, looky, everything is white! Look, there are icicles on the rock faces on the sides of the Interstate! Look, look, there are flakes of snow blowing around in the air even though there are no clouds!

My friend from Massachusetts came for a visit this weekend, because we had a last-minute cancellation of a retreat group so I had unexpected free time. We went for lunch at the Speckled Hen Pub in Norfolk. I spotted this place in October as I was driving to Canaan. I'm not accustomed to popping in to new places, but it looked so cool and has such a cool name, I determined at a glance that I would take my friend there next time she came. That was a glorious fall day, with the best colors you can imagine and a beautiful blue sky. This time the sky was just as blue, but it was 20 degrees and there was snow on the ground.

As we sat by the window and ate our sandwiches I looked out at the shops and the snow (looky, there is ice on the branches!) and realized I am probably never going to get used to living in New England. Or anywhere outside of Louisiana, I suppose. I think part of why being a missionary sister works for me so well has nothing to do with my Catholic faith. Deep down, I have the heart of a tourist. I do enjoy the exotic locales I have been missioned to. People talk funny, and cook interesting foods, and have different ethnic roots, and adapt to their climates in interesting ways. The grass smells different when you mow the lawn up here in the north. If you have a lawn. I do not actually enjoy it all, but I do at least find it all interesting.

Well, I have to go now, I want to go make a snow angel on the front lawn before the Ladies Guild arrives.