By Helena Rodriquez
I know of at least one person more organized than me when it comes to Christmas: Sister Margaret. I received my first Christmas card for the season from Sister Margaret the week right after Thanksgiving.
I immediately pictured Sister Margaret, in spite of her small frame and kind face, whipping everything into shape like usual, at her new assignment in Chicago, where she volunteers for a religious community as a receptionist and switchboard operator.
Sister Margaret is a delicate figure with a warm, loving heart and a constantly smiling face, but at the same time, there is something commanding about the way she operates that makes people not want to second-guess her. I admire Sister Margaret for her strong work ethic and her systematic way of getting things done.
She was in charge of the religious education program at St. Helena’s in Hobbs when I met her in 1996. She’s headstrong, and yet she also goes about her work in a way that makes people feel welcome. In fact, it was she who encouraged me to get more involved in my church and learn more about my Catholic faith.
I’ve always been enchanted by nuns and monks and feel somewhat envious of their seemingly stress-free lifestyles. I regret not taking advantage of an opportunity in 2002 to spend a weekend at Mount Carmel Hermitage near San Angelo, Texas. I was supposed to go out there to write a story for the Abilene Reporter-News and was looking forward to the weekend of solitude. However, I ended up quitting my job to go back to school, so I never did do the story.
Perhaps I’m drawn to people in the religious life because I myself wanted to be a nun when I was a teenager, or at least I thought I wanted to be one. I went to talk to Father Juan and he gave me some literature to read over, but when I told my parents about this religious calling they kind of freaked and clearly felt uncomfortable with the idea, which unfortunately caused me to second-guess myself as well.
Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a nun, but I feel that we can all learn from them and their simplistic lifestyles. Although there are a lot of jokes in the media about nuns and monks alike, I still think there is that sense of respect for these people who’ve taken vows to live religious lives. Of course the prime example was Mother Teresa, but I imagine there are other Mother Teresas among us. These are the types of role models I would like my daughter to look up to rather than celebrities.
Perhaps I’m also fascinated with nuns because of a true story my Uncle Louie told my mom. Uncle Louie had just gotten out of prison and was in an unemployment office in Amarillo trying to find a job when a nun went and sat next to him. Uncle Louie and the nun struck up a conversation and Uncle Louie confided in her, telling the nun that he was pessimistic anyone would want to hire him because of his criminal history. However, the nun was optimistic and reassured Uncle Louie that he would find a job. Well sure enough, Uncle Louie did get a job that day, as an electrician, and he was dumbfounded by the way it turned out.
The name of the company that hired him? Nunn Electric.
Sheer coincidence or small miracle? You be the judge. Personally, I believe this nun had some friends in high places.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico.