It has been brought to my attention that I have not been direct enough about the nuns’ political leanings. So let it be known: S(h)o(w)cialists, all of them. All the way and they’re not ashamed, for they know their savior, The One and The Only JC Up Top, was a radical so(w)cialist and stood with the lowest among us (
The nuns are complicated beings, of course, and they aim to love all, even The Donald (the actual Ding Dong Donald and their very own In Haus Donald– Father Ding Dong Donald); this pairing of complication and universal love sometimes makes it hard for the nuns to express themselves and come down on a certain “side” of an issue, but the nuns are works in progress and they are workin’ on taking a stance and a stand.
As the mouthpiece of the nuns, I will briefly try to do them justice on the matter of the democratic primaries.
The nuns support peace and justice for all. They are adamant about this. The Triune God they worship is a just and loving God. As such, they pray for and try to create a corner of the world that is grounded in freedom and love. Yes, the nuns are hippies. They are for “free love.” Even though they adhere to strict orders, sent down from The Vat, they do all they can to participate in radical and revolutionary egalitarian acts.
The nuns haven’t yet attained their collective right to vote, alas. This means they depend on MY vote, since I’m not quite and never will be an all-out nun.
The nuns were well aware when they got up in the wee small hours of this morning that I had been planning on voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary election– today. They had been hearing me campaign to them for months. They knew my neon Hillary lanyard well and they grabbed me by the neck using it a number of times. They were familiar with my antics. They were used to trying to go to sleep at night with me jumping up and down on their beds, screaming “FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT! FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT!” and to waking up to “I
The Big Nun Burn came in the form of Sistrrr Grin.
When I woke up this mourning, Sistrrr Grin was sitting on top of me. If you know Sistrrr Grin and you frequent our room often, you know that such a thing is not out of the ordinary. It was the way that she was sitting that set this instance apart. Instead of her usual manner of lifting a little of her weight off of me and angling her body in such a way that allows for my hips not to be broken, this mourning Sistrrr Grin sat directly on top of me and put the whole of her weigh into and onto my pelvis. OW-CH! I knew right away that this was happening because I could not breathe under the weight of those Grecian pillar thighs. I also knew my back(bone) was going to be put to the text because I heard a loud crack and felt sudden death upon me. This was not the little tinkling sound of the alarm that I expected. The Ides of March were upon me via Sistrrr Grin (“Dear Saint Anthony, come around; something’s giant and crushing me down…”)
On any other day, we would have been doing our Grin-Grim fairynun tale spooning position but she had a surprise for me this mourning. Normally she sleeps wrapped around me and reads up against me until I finally wake up (it’s a small bed in a small nun cell and I’m hiding Sistrrr Grin in my room so we have to squish-and-hush). But this mourning she took the devil nun by the horns and crushed me underneath her until I cried “Nuncle! Nuncle!” “Feel the Bern yet?” “What? Yes. I feel it.” “You feel what?” “I feel a Sistrrr de Sade hexercising her political agenda on my hips.” “What do you feel?” “Yew.” “Huh?” “I feel the Grim Reaper telling me the bad news.” “Oh?” “I feel the URN waiting for Father Donald to climb inside!” She squeezed my crushed hips tighter. “Want more?” “All right. All right.” “Alright, what?” “I feel the burn. I FEEL THE BRRN.” “Spell it correctly,” she chastened as only she can. I tried to hump her off of me but it was no use. The woman can be as fixed as a boulder in the sky when she wants to be. Her body knows no gravitational forces!
“OKAY. I. FEEL IT. THE. BERN. E…E.R.N. I FEEL THE BERN. ”
That was it. She got off of me, crawled over, and picked me up in her arms like a baby. “It’s voting day, Sistrrr Grim.” “Um. I know that,” I said, with sass. She kissed my face too many times to count (nuns do that!). I was a little perturbed by her antics at first. “I hope my mourning breath is especially bad right now,” I said, blowing in her face. “Burning daffodils.” “You lie.” “Only beside you. Where I can tell the truth.”
I looked her over. Her eyebrows would be the end of the discussion, I knew. Readrrr, if I haven’t explained this to you before, you should know: nuns read each other’s eyebrows because the rest of their bodies are fully covered (in rad habits!). Because so little of the nuns show, the nuns have to read each other’s eyebrows in a superhuman way. That is why we call them aye-brows around here!
Anyway, I read her ayebrows, like I always do, and I said, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier that you wanted me to feel the Bern?”
“You never asked what I thought.”
“You were scared of my wrath, admit it.”
“No. I love your wrath. I just wanted to wait until you felt the Bern on your own. But this mourning, when you snuggled up against me and sighed “Hillary” in your sleep again, I knew something drastic had to be done.”
“So you had to make me feel it.”
And then I said to her, “But don’t you nunderstand! I feel like I will be betraying everything I have stood for over the years if I feel the Bern now.”
“I don’t think so at all. I think everything you have stood for is what ‘feeling the Bern’ is all about.”
And then it hit me. She was right. I had been feeling the Bern, the Brrn, and the B(urn) for years. It’s not about a person; it’s about the BURN FOR JUSTICE.
My vote had to reflect that.
Because Sistrrr Grin had helped me to feel the Bern, I was able to recognize on my own that I could not vote for Hillary in the 2016 primary election. I had to vote according to my ethics and conscience and political/philosophical beliefs: for Bernie Sanders. On behalf of myself. And on behalf of the nuns. And on behalf of The JC.
But before I could vote, I needed to talk through the Hillary Feelings because they were strong and the idea of voting for anyone but her felt disloyal and absolutely terrifying, for various reasons. Sometimes in order to understand and come to an acceptance of yourself you have to talk through things with someone you trust more than anyone in the world, and for me that person is the one who shares my room and bed with me here at the abbey. Oh, and by the way, Sistrrr Sackville is celled in the room right beside mine and she says she likes to listen to us have deep conversations through the walls… I have no doubt she had her listening ears on in the matter of sharing my history with Hillary with Sistrrr Grin. As I recounted in the narrative I shared with my wise and already-aware cellmate this mourn:
The first encounter that I remember having with Hillary Clinton took place when I was in ninth grade. It was during the “Lewinsky Scandal.” Having been raised in a matriarchy run by my larger-than-life grandmother, Mel, who was and is a die-hard democrat and the biggest believer in and supporter of The Clintons I’ve ever met, as well as the biggest Catholic influence in my life (bless her big, bleeding soul!); I was primed toward seeing the good in the Clintons. But I am not some brain-washable Bernadette– I have a mind of my own and I judge people primarily based on my impressions of them (not based on what I am told).
When I first encountered Hillary Clinton, my child heart throbbed. There is no other way of putting it. Something innate in me responded to her persona– her presence. I liked her. I thought she was smart and misunderstood. I felt protective of her. Instantly. On instinct. Sometimes you just like someone and have a soft place for her in your heart. That happened when I encountered Hillary Clinton (like it did when I first encountered The Wicked Witch of the West). One of my strengths and weaknesses is that, since I was a child, emotionally I fly to the side of women who are misunderstood, hated and demonized. I don’t need a reason. Very often, if a woman is hated and demonized by society, my heart throbs and I instantly form an allegiance to her. I cannot help it. It is what I call my “first nature.”
So when I saw and heard Hillary Clinton under severe scrutiny from the media and from many people around me (barring my grandmother and immediate family), an allegiance in me formed toward her that is comprised of a deep empathy. This was before I developed any admiration for the woman as a thinker and rhetorician; this was just my heart throbbing in empathy. My feelings toward Hillary were always more about me than they were about her. I watched her respond to the allegations. I watched her make snarky remarks about Lewinsky. I watched her hold her head high with dignity. I watched her be a shark. I watched her pull back. Even then, when I was able to recognize her weaknesses, I loved her and felt a sense of loyalty toward her. I think it’s because I have a lot of strong, formidable (sometimes manipulative and callous) women in my family, and I love them. I love them in their entirety: the good and the bad included. (Readrrr, I’m NOT a black and white thinker… well…not usually.) It’s not easy being a smart woman in a man’s world (See A Room of One’s Own for details.) Sometimes it brings out the worst in you. I have always empathized with this position since I was young.
So there was the baseline love and loyalty for Hillary Clinton. Something no one forced or ever could force on me– something that exists because I have a great empathy for the difficulty of the human condition, because I am hugely forgiving of others as I desire forgiveness, and because I empathize with people, especially women, who are trapped into roles based on their upbringings. Just as some people are trapped by their poverty, some are trapped by their wealth and power (and their lust for it), even when they are not aware of it. Sometimes we forget that those who climb ladders for their own benefit and abuse power are also victims of the base human condition (of sin if you want to Catholicize it) that none of us can escape fully. In terms of ethics, the closest we can come to transcending our greedy, base nature is to recognize and admit fully to it and maintain a commitment to being open and honest in our journey to live out the ethics we believe in but are not always good at enacting. In other words: we must try. We must be committed to learning. We must always seek to see ourselves in others (even our worst Nazi-priest enemy) and to see others in ourselves. It’s painful: feeling the burn is painful. Feeling the Bern is about self-awareness and the struggle for radical equality. It involves sacrificing what benefits “self” for the greater good. And that might sound like a load of crap. In part it is. But in part it isn’t. The part that isn’t a load of crap, however small: that is what we must hang onto. Hillary needs to be part of it, and I believe she is making progress. Something somewhere inside her is feeling the burn, I believe because I sensed it in early high school and I always trust my gut impressions.
The next major moment that sealed my fate as a life-long advocate and supporter of Hillary took place during my junior year of high school, when I was writing some kind of a reflection paper in English class (the only one that ever mattered). I had gotten off topic (Imagine! How unlike me!) and mentioned in the paper something about my family being big fans of Hillary Clinton. After stating this, I recall writing something along the lines of “Crazy family!” I remember putting in the ‘crazy family’ because I was nervous about how the detail might be received by my Dear Readrrr at the time. It was an ambiguous statement of anxiety, meant to save my butt in case I had misjudged and taken too big of a liberty in my disclosure. I included the detail about Hillary because I wanted to share something personal about me and who I am with the World’s Best Teacher, Sistrrr Shakespeare. It wasn’t clear to me at the time, but in retrospect, I realize I was wanting to share with her who I was by expressing my allegiance to women and women’s rights issues and something deeper about myself. My mind was still developing, though, so my inner voice was infantile and just emerging: it was unaware of why it was doing that. Head Miss Stir S. Shakespeare of The Friary Priory responded by writing in my margin, “No– Good family!” When I read her comment, I soared with joy. I had connected with someone for the first time in my life! I immediately knew my gut was right in what it was telling me about Sistrrr Shakespeare: she could understand, she would understand, we were of the same fiber. I knew, then, that I had found a friend, a mate, for life.
I am telling this story to explain why Hillary means so much to me. She means so much to me because Sistrrr Shakespeare means so much to me, and because ‘Hillary Clinton’, the phrase alone, was and is a marker of my solidarity with the most important person to me (aside from the little lavender nun babies), my very best friend, my soul mate. Hillary is more than Hillary to me. Hillary is a symbol of solidarity between my life partner and me. Hillary is a symbol of my commitment to her and to women’s rights and the global movement for a non-violent, radically egalitarian society. This will never change. Hillary Clinton is not responsible for this and it is not about her: it is about me and my dearest companion. I had to explain this to Sistrrr Grin. So that she could understand. But she already did.
She looked at me and softened her ayebrows. “You,” she said, “and Sistrrr Shakespeare felt the burn.”
And then I understood. Everything.
I will always support Hillary Clinton. I think she is smart and phenomenal. But she has made some choices politically that I have a hard time standing by, and so, between her and Bernie Sanders, I have to choose Bernie. That is not to say that I don’t think Hillary can continue her evolution and both feel and redefine the burn. I know and believe she can. My wish for her and for everyone is that we all feel the burn. Bernie Sanders, as he knows and like the rest of us, is a small part of it. The burn is a global and radical fire for justice and equality.
I thank the nuns, especially Sistrrr Grin, for helping me see this. I am so grateful that the moment of clarity came to me before I voted today.
Sistrrr Grin drove me to the polling place, and held on to the little nuns while I placed a vote on behalf of the burning voting-age nuns. We went directly back to the abbey and participated in a ritual known as “Burning Nun.”
I am exhausted but I am evolving. And this is the best way to be exhausted.
Dear Readrrr, I hope you have someone who sits on your lap and refuses to get off until you get out the vote, too. And until you feel the bern, the burn, and the brrn. You make a difference. The nuns believe in you!
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The one who asks questions does not lose his way.