Title: And Then There Were Nuns
Author: Jane Christmas
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Checked out from the library
And Then There Were Nuns is a memoir sharing one woman’s journey to discerning her vocation. This is a particularly pressing matter as she’s facing the immediate choices of marriage vs. nunnery. She has a very understanding significant other and the blessing of time to explore the nunneries. Jane is a 2x divorcee who has felt the call to religious life and ignored it for a good portion of her life. She finally decides to fully explore the option just as her long-time boyfriend pops the question. She finds herself in the absurd circumstance of promising herself to both a spouse and potentially God. To resolve this nagging call and desire to serve, she decides to post-pone planning nuptials to visit a convent. The first convent visit doesn’t resolve the feelings but does force her to explore further. As readers, we end up on a year long journey through convents and abbeys of both Anglican and Catholic origins. We learn that she’s really peeling back layers to expose herself completely. Some of this exposes quite painful life experiences. We soon find that her journey may or may not be to discern her vocation but is absolutely to find healing. While she explored her inner thoughts and struggles, I laughed, cried and learned a lot to deepen my own spiritual practice.
One aspect of this book I just loved was her humor. Religion and self exploration can teeter on stuffy, self-righteous, dry. Not Jane! Jane lets it all hang out. I promise, this isn’t like one of those previews where only the funny parts are shown so your disappointed by the movie… the whole book is funny. But I need to share this story as it’s my favorite and the one I most identify with. Jane self describes as a driven over achiever. In one convent, she become convinced that she could master this nun stuff in 5 years tops. Yes, she confirms with herself, 5 years here and she’d be fit for Mother Superior. Her humility seems to lose it’s grip on her spirit and she becomes quite full of herself. But just as always seems to happen in those instances… she finds herself slipped right back into place. At the next observance of the Hours, she finds that she can’t keep her papers straight. She’s lost her place and her papers. One sticks in the shoe of the nun next to her. She is completely humiliated as she must collect her papers and herself. Sure, she can run this place – as soon as she can figure out how to get through a simple routine Hours without a ruckus.
I loved that I learned a lot about my own personal spiritual journey. I learned some new prayer techniques. I received some great recommendations for future reading. I didn’t love how she was treated in Catholic institutions. Some treatment of her as a child and as an adult is callus with religious superiority. Having been the recipient of this lately, my heart hurts for her as a child and even as a raw adult on an earnest spiritual journey. I understand the need to be true to ones own faith. I can not understand how this can’t happen with kindness as the package.
I will share my favorite pick up from the book: The Anglican Collect for Purity
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secretes are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Chocolate Digestive Biscuits
Author: Brian Floca
Caldecott Award Winner – and many more!
Checked out from the library per little man’s request.
We were waiting for the elevator in the children’s section and my son became very excited. The book, Locomotive, was in a display. Little Man announced that we had to get this book as well. It’s an Award Winner! He knows that this sort of endorsement would prompt me to up the book ration. I did. I’m a sucker for the Award books. I have not yet regretted picking one up.
Locomotive is the story of the railroad and a family’s westward journey. The book shares how the railroad was built and the Gold Rush. The story would be equally appealing to both boys and girls. Because of this, I would strongly recommend this title as a companion to a historical spine; either for a homeschooling family or classroom read-aloud. Each job on the train is described as well as the steam engine. This could easily be expanded into mechanical study for an older student in the family. We also learn some of how the trains communicate with each other and people at the stations through their ‘toot’ language. Throughout the family’s journey, we see the places they’ve passed through in beautiful illustrations. We took this opportunity to break out the maps and follow along. We learn about what life was like on one of the early trains and in America during that time period. Much of the perspective is that of a child in the family which keeps the book from becoming dry with factual content. Indeed, given all of the learning activities that we were able to develop out of this book, one might think that we wore it out. But truly, the kids asked for it again and again. They enjoyed the story and the learning was just a byproduct. I guess that’s why this selection is such the award winner.
Buffalo Burgers (inspired by Easy Oven-Baked Cheeseburgers found here)
2# buffalo (or ground beef, or a mix of both)
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 c bread crumbs
6 or 7 slices cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Mix ingredients from meat to pepper and pat evenly into 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Meat will pull in and give off some fat – how much fat depends on the kind of meat you choose. Top with cheese slices and return to oven until cheese melts. Serve on slider rolls.
Delish! (I like mine topped with a little steak sauce but everyone else went the classic route of ketchup, mustard & pickle)
Well good Friday morning! Can you believe we made it?!
Life is crazy busy lately with amazing things, so I think I’ll take some time to share these with you!
1st: Our library remains in fiscal crisis. Here it is in a nutshell:
Deadline is looming: July 1. We’ve made a commitment to not cut services until following Summer Reading Program which ends July 31st. The community support has been amazing but you can’t pay the bills with encouragement. We’ll just have to wait and see how that encouragement translates itself to the decision makers. Sometimes I wonder if a drive to switch from yearly budget discretionary allotment to mil rate funding would solve our problems… but then I see libraries with that brand of funding struggling too.
2: But life and library must go on. So I also spent part of this week visiting tattoo parlors 🙂 I did have to promise hubby not to come home with any more – which I won’t!! Though I did joke I’d come home with this:
But boy o boy I love those places!! So what do tattoos have to do with the public library? We have a great digital magazine service called Zinio. Zinio is heavily used by a few. So we are attempting to determine whether it’s because people aren’t aware of it or aren’t interested. We’ve selected a couple of special interest titles to promote. One of these titles is Inked. I distributed flyers advertising Inked with information on how to access it with a library card. We’ll watch the circulation of these items and hopefully have a better overall view of the situation. One staff member did offer a bit of discouragement that magazines are only for the older generation. Which not only discouraged my efforts but also made me think – hey, did you just call me old? So what are your thoughts? Do you read magazines? Do you buy them?
Another peak of my week: Teaching soap making at one of our libraries. I’d planned for about 5. 18 showed. We had a really good time. I enjoy the interactive nature of soap making and sharing something I love so much with our patrons.
One more perk: I spent one whole day at the circulation desk. Patrons and patron service is the heart of my job and why I do what I do. With the whole budget crisis, I was feeling pretty burnt out. A day with those that we serve really recharged my batteries. It was a very good thing.
Finally: I have had the privilege of joining our state’s professional journal as an editor. Today is my first meeting and I’m excited and nervous. Wish me luck!
I’d love to hear what you & your libraries are up to this week!