Do you remember the first time you saw a Sister in habit? What was your reaction? Do you remember watching to see if you could get a glimpse of the Sister's hair when she wore the wimple, or a chance to see her ankle or did she change the style of her shoe from one with a heel to no heel? I remember noticing little things like that when I had Sisters in grade school at St. Mary's School in Luxemburg. Well, that is what I am experiencing now being the first Sister in habit here at All Saints School. Here are a few examples to illustrate this:
1) About day 4 that I was working at the school, my janitor who is in his early 60's and not Catholic came up to me and said, May I ask you a personal question? Sure. How many blouses do you have and skirts? You wear the same thing everyday. So I explained about the habit, the vow of poverty etc. Do you mind just wearing the same color always? No, I get use to it. You don't have to think too hard in the morning when you're getting dressed as to what to wear. He just nodded his head as I saw the wheels turning. Thank you- I was just wondering.
2) I have been here more than a month and it isn't as hot as Yuma or Hawaii and I thought I can wear a black blouse today instead of my usual white blouse and vest. Do clothes make a difference? Do people notice what Sisters wear? You better believe they do. I wasn't on campus a half hour when I saw the janitor and his reaction was,-WHOAAAAA-What's this??? You are wearing a black blouse now? Is that allowed with the habit.
3. Then I met students and did they look at me and stare. In the 3rd/4th grade room as I walked into the room the girls all said-OHhhhhhhh-you're all in black; you are black, black except your buttons are a little light in color and you still have white on that thing on your head. Great opportunity to teach the word Veil.
4. I was in my office working with my door partly open. I heard an adult who gives money monthly for Adopt A Student Program. She was talking to my secretary that she heard a Sister is the principal here for the first time. She told her she hadn't seen a Sister since she was in grade school-may I peak in her office to see the Sister? And that she did and she smiled and said-this brings back so many memories. I haven't seen a Sister since I went to high school. (She also doubled her monthly donation!)
Besides clothes they watch what you do:
After our parish's 20th anniversary dinner I pitched in to help wash the dishes. People were in shock but pleased to see that I was human, down to earth and not afraid to work.
I met with the deacon who is working on Arizona Rosary Day. He is planning a breakfast to raise money for the bus from our parish. I told him I would help work the breakfast. He had the most shocked look on his face and he looked at me and said, You will help work the breakfast?? I said sure. I 've done this many times. Do you cook or do you do dishes? I said I am great at dishes. I was trained well at our Motherhouse. I come with experience. A parishioner who was at the anniversary dinner spoke up and said, I saw her doing dishes. She really went at it. She's good!
Sometimes we think we don't make a difference or that people don't notice us. But they do! And we are appreciated. In our Franciscan way we often bring a smile to people and we keep them guessing as to who we really are. We are a mystery to them at times-in a good way!