To say I had quite a vivid imagination as a child would be an understatement. My six-year-old universe centered around the church where my father was the minister. Yes, I am one of the notorious “Preacher’s Kids” of which legends of wildness are often expounded. Sunday School, Sunday morning church, Sunday night church, Wednesday night church (mid-week Jesus check-in), programs, and church luncheons, and the occasional revival weekend. Both sets of grandparents were Southern Baptists as well and I attended a Baptist parochial school. Our whole religious view was that there were Southern Baptists and then there were Non-Southern Baptists. And we were right and their beliefs were questionable. Understandably, I was concerned in 1976 when my father decided to move to the Methodist denomination.
This was a monumental shift for me. In hindsight, I can accept the reality of the situation. The Methodists paid better and provided housing, so our poverty-level family of five needed the economic benefit. I always tease and say my father being capitalist outweighed his designation as either a Baptist or Methodist. More accurately, a survivalist.
It was a big event when my Mother, my two little brothers and I were invited to officially “tour” the new church and the house where we would be living. In my mind, there was a looming crisis. I somehow knew about nuns (perhaps the Sound of Music?) and I was on high alert to figure out if we were venturing into nun territory. Living in an uber religious household, I assumed I would be expected to “marry the church,” which was how my mom had explained my earlier inquiries about nun life; outside of my Southern Baptist Bubble.
So we were dressed nicely, reminded of our manners, and showed up at the appointed time for the tour on a sunny spring day in Houston, Texas. The tour hostess from the church was a lovely, older woman, with short salt and pepper hair. As introductions are made, she introduced herself as Mary Nun. Not kidding. From that point on, I do not remember another thing she said because I assumed my life was OVER. I will never have a husband! Or children! And I will have to be a nurse or a teacher. And I won’t be able to wear cute shoes! OH MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME! Oh no – a vow of poverty. Are nuns allowed to have dogs? I bet not because they all live together. And so on the record of panic played in my head…
I am barely contained this internal meltdown for the couple of hours we walked around the properties.
When we finally got in the car to leave, I exploded into a crying, sobbing, hysterical mess. Snot running down my face, my poor mother assumed I was freaked out about the move itself, until I started a verbal vomit of all my worries. Well, once my gentle mother stopped laughing, she explained to me that I was not being shipped off to a convent anytime soon.
And the real punchline is that I converted to Catholicism 20 years later. And I actually like nuns. But I am sure my shoes and I agree it was not my destiny.