An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Nuns' Rebellion

It is the day after Christmas, it is snowing, and Sister and I are curled up on the couch watching The Sound of Music.

This is Sister's all-time favorite movie; she has seen it half a dozen times and can sing the songs and even recite some of the dialogue. Her favorite part is when Mother Superior challenges Maria to consider that maybe she is being called to a vocation outside the religious life.

It's interesting watching this movie with a nun, especially when Maria decides to leave the Abbey. While Sister and I have had many heart-to-heart conversations, this scene in the movie makes me wonder if she ever questioned her decision to join a religious order; in many ways, I am curious if she ever had any doubts about God's call.

So, I ask her.

And curled up on the couch in front of the roaring fire, she tells me a story ...

She is in her third year at the convent -- a year before taking her final vows --when she and 18 other postulants decide to leave. They make no announcement and give no notice. They are tired of working, tired of studying -- tired of everything, really -- and they just walk away.

"Just like that? You walked away?" I asked.

"Just like that," she said. "We got up in the morning and walked away. We told no one."

All 18 return to their separate villages. All 18 have no more contact with one another.

Once she returns home, Sister tells her parents the convent is on break. She doesn't tell them what happened, and she even hides any correspondence that arrives from her Mother Superior.

Days go by.

Then weeks.

"Did you talk to any of the others who left?" I want to know.

"No one," she says. "But, oh, how I struggled ... I didn't know what to do."

Finally, after days and days of praying, at the end of the month she packs her bags, says goodbye to her family, and returns to the convent.

And a miracle takes place.

Amazingly, on the very same day she arrives, slowly, and all throughout the day, the other 17 return, too.

One at a time, from different villages, they all come back.

I look at Sister, astounded.

"We all came back on the same day," she says, smiling and nodding. "All 18 of us. We had been very foolish, but God showed us -- each in a different way -- that we needed to come back."

Next December Sister graduates and will return to Tanzania. She will return to hard work, taking what she has learned here and adapting that knowledge to address the needs of her community. She will battle ignorance, prejudice, and bouts of malaria.

And yet, on this day after Christmas with the snow falling gently outside, I know Sister's story is just as hopeful and happy as the movie we are watching. There is a deep sense of peace -- which no obstacle can break -- that comes with following God's will, and Sister knows she is doing what she had been called to do.

No matter what the future holds she has found her peace and, for her, faith is as simple as that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Last year at St. Mary's.
Last home game.
One breakaway and lay-up ...
last basket of the game.

Jonathan in action.
p.s. thanks Catherine B. for the action shots!

If You Give a Teen the Wheel

I've mentioned before how our oldest, a sophomore in high school, has that teen-lack-of-communication-thing going on. When I pick him up in the afternoon, sometimes he'll talk about his day, but most of the time he morphs into a caveman, grunting and answering any questions with one word.

Except yesterday.

Yesterday, with me in the passenger seat and his two younger brothers snickering in the back seat, I handed him the keys and let him drive us all home.

And something peculiar happened.

He talked non-stop.

He asked questions. He laughed. He joked. In fact, I found myself in the most unusal situation of telling him to stop talking so much and just drive.

It was nice, though.

And we even made it home in one piece:)

Monday, January 17, 2011


A few weeks ago my husband and I attended a dinner party held in a private dining room at a local restaurant. The party involved a lot of people, and when it came time for the meal there were place cards indicating where everyone should sit.

When we were seated, Joe and I noticed that we had been placed at a table with those who were about the age of my parents. There were others at the dinner - the same age as us - who were seated together at another table, but for some reason we were seated apart from them.

Now, before I go any further, let me clarify that we had a lovely evening. We enjoyed our dinner companions immensely, but later, on the drive home, we both confessed nagging doubts about the situation.

Are we seen as old?
Too boring?
Not hip, or cool, or funny?

It's true we are in the situation of straddling two camps. On the one hand we have two teenage sons that may make us seem older, but on the other hand we also have a six-year-old who keeps us on our toes.

Maybe we are just hard to categorize ... not young parents, but not old, either.

Then, this past weekend we attended our nephew's baptism. Again there were place cards, and when Joe and I found our places we realized we had been placed at the table with both sets of grandparents.

Now we are really paranoid.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is that a snowball in your freezer?

It's funny you should ask because, yes, there is in fact a snowball in my freezer.
It's there because this little guy ...

who had two wonderful snow days in which school was cancelled ...

started crying when he realized that it's back to school tomorrow and all the fun, fun, fun was over. And to make matters worse, his favorite snowball in the whole wide world was going to melt.

Hence the snowball in the freezer.

And in case you're also wondering if, in the following photo, he was going to hit our cute, adorable neighbor with that snowball, the answer is yes he was ... UNTIL I caught him red-handed and stopped him. He threw it at his older brother instead.

See? Fun.