I saw two nuns standing outside a condominium construction project that used to be a giant Catholic church. Back in about 1920 Buffalo was rich. Gangsta rich. More millionaires than any other city in the United States and that was back when a million was a million because a cup of coffee was about nickel and that included your lunch. The 1920s gangsta rich families built and maintained what seems like a thousand fabulously vast glories to God and themselves. The blasted, sinking shells of these vainglories litter the urban landscape. This one, the one with the nuns today, at least was spared generations of bats, birds, and urine-soaked crack mattresses. It is going straight from sins to kitchen sinks in a year.
So, the nuns. One nun was holding a latte cup and the other had a green baseball hat on over her wimple. Both of them were wearing kicks. Sneakers. And their body postures weren’t all stiff and nunny. One was leaned back gesticulating (with her latte cup) and the other nun sort of bent forward in a laugh. I was reaching to open my car window to entirely violate their privacy by eavesdropping when the light changed and I had to go. I managed to get a look at them though – and here’s the thing. They were young. Like mid 30s. Maybe mid 30s on the outside.
I parked the Pathfinder and shopped my way through the co op where everyone is slightly hipper than everyone else but I was distracted and couldn’t play the concerned hip citizen game very effectively. How do people know how to become a nun? Are there still places that take new nuns? How do people know where to look for them? Secret signs and sigils? Do you need a personal endowment like back in the Medieval day? Was there a Google search in these nuns’ pasts?
I was stumped. Thunderstruck. Once again awed by the variety of life and the greatness of the human experience. It was too much. I came home and spent a happy 90 minutes cruising the Orion telescope website. I need a Dobsonian or a refractor scope right now to feel properly small again – to shrink humanness back into its tiny speck of consciousness. Nuns, not nuns, Miss Tibbit the Useless Little Black Dog, you, me – we are all just cells floating in the universe’s vastiness.
Now for a glass of wine.