Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Church in the Coffeehouse

The Blue Moon Coffee Cafe >>

Undergraduate students at the College of St. Catherine are required to take a class called "The Reflective Woman" during their first year. One of their assignments is to interview someone who is not like them. Campus Ministry maintains a list of Sisters of St. Joseph who are willing to be interviewed, so most years I get a call from someone asking if they can come and talk to me. I think I've been interviewed 5 or 6 times now, and it's always a really interesting and fun experience. Usually they find out CSJs are not quite as strange and mysterious as they'd expected! If a student asks me to suggest a place where we can meet, I usually choose the Blue Moon, which is a cozy little coffeehouse in South Minneapolis. It's bright and cheerful there, welcoming, with good, low-key music. I did most of my studying there while in grad school, and it's still the best place I know to go and read or visit with friends. One student a few years back told me she'd been really surprised that I'd suggested a coffeehouse, as she'd thought I would want to meet in a church. Anyway, I always ask the students to email me their finished papers, but until I got one this past fall that had never happened. And then this morning when I got to work, there was another one, from a student who interviewed me about two years ago. In both of the papers I've gotten, the writers haven't always gotten all the facts exactly right, but they clearly have had some of their ideas about sisters changed. They're surprised that sisters have a sense of humor, and are happy, and that we keep in regular contact with our families, that we are well-educated, and that we do ordinary things like go to the grocery store. Mostly what they know about religious sisters what they've seen on TV, which, alas, doesn't bear much relationship to real life. We're not especially neurotic, judgmental, cranky, spacy, shy, withdrawn, repressed or submissive, to their evident surprise. Instead, we are, as one student wrote, "all doing the same thing with a purpose," while living in a way that helps us "to not become so trapped up in materialistic things." And hey, church can even happen in the Blue Moon Coffee Cafe, apparently. Who knew?

Today I'm grateful for: bright sunshine, a warm and safe place to live, my parents, RH, ML, DZ, AH, the novels of Charles Williams, the St. Paul Interfaith Network.
Holding in prayer: M,A,J, S and others traveling today, the students who've interviewed me for their papers, and all students at St. Kate's, GL awaiting a diagnosis, friends recovering from surgery, Selamawit and the women in the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, people who work for ICE, Lilly in Mexico, Peace House Community, Sisters of St. Joseph in Italy.

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