Children’s worker Mina writes in response to this week’s challenge by sharing the story of what happened when she tried to be a nun… and then wasn’t.
My favourite saints are always the ones who give it all up and go to live in the desert.
I want to be hardcore. I want to do what the rich young ruler couldn’t. I want to be uncluttered by things. I want to be the one who relies on God and not on my bank balance and my possessions. It’s just not turning out the way I’d planned…
I did try. A few years back, I gave my stuff away and went to live as a novice in a religious order. I had no choice but to live simply. It helps when they take your credit cards away for safekeeping. It was scary but there was also something strangely wonderful about it, something massively freeing. Everything was held in common, most things were homemade and little touches became things of beauty: a small vase of flowers in your place to mark a special anniversary, a homemade or recycled card, a single chocolate to celebrate a feast day. My eyes were opened to things I’d never noticed or valued before. People, not things mattered most. God had more room to show Himself and I was freer to be with Him.
But when I found myself returned to life outside the convent, suddenly the stuff came back to bite me. How could I be hardcore about living simply when I needed to be accessible to people by email and phone and no longer had a habit to simplify my wardrobe choices? Plus, with the best will in the world, I’ve always been a sucker for shiny things and novelty items (I do work with children!) and now I had my credit card back. I needed things but I needed freedom too.
I’ve decided it has to be a journey. I’m not making giant strides, but little steps seem to work: recycling Christmas cards for sending next year, regifting things I won’t use, making and baking instead of buying, scouring Pinterest to find a new purpose for the broken objects, trying to buy clothes only from charity shops (with a ‘one in, one out’ garment policy when I’m feeling most strong).
So hardcore is probably not going to happen. And while I accept that, it doesn’t mean that I have to let the things win. I had a glimpse of what it was like when God had more room and I’m not about to let that beauty pass me by.
Mina Munns is an ex-primary teacher, ex- novice nun and present day Children and Families worker from Nottingham. People tell her that if she was a dog she’d be a terrier or possibly a Jack Russell. She prefers to think of herself as catlike. Her Children’s work blog is http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.co.uk/ ; follow her on Twitter @mina_munns