When I was 12 years old I wanted to be a nun. This is particularly impressive since when I was 8 I wanted to be a witch and when I was 21 I wanted to be a sex therapist. I blame this desire entirely upon the goodly sisters at the Salesian summer camp in which my mother enrolled me every summer. (Side note: If you have never witnessed a swimming lesson given by a Sister who must remain in full habit and as such cannot actually get in the water, you are missing out.) They did their best to undo the bad rap that Catholic school instructors have been giving nuns since the advent of rulers.
While I am quite sure I would have been a terrible nun, they did leave a good imprint upon my heart and so, a week and a half ago when I saw Amanda Palmer retweet a Kickstarter project of the day which wanted to use an abandoned convent in Brooklyn as a space to display art, I was more than a touch intrigued.
Initially, part of me balked at the idea of using what had once been a house for such faith-filled women for a wholly secular gallery, but I soon realized that it was a far more respectful to repurpose the convent then to let it degrade. As you can see the project is almost (but not completely) fully funded so it looks like Ms. Sabuncuoglu will be able to go forward with her work. I'm pleased for her, and wish I could get up to Brooklyn to see the exhibit at St. Cecelia's but something about the project is sticking in my mind. It's not the art, or the fact that I'm glad to see this fantastic method of project funding succeeding...it's the nuns.
My mind is filled with the former Sisters of St. Cecelia's in Brooklyn, NY.
Were they recommissioned to a new convent? Were some simply very old? Did some realize that the life they had committed themselves to was not their calling and leave the sisterhood? I feel like they all just disappeared and now their home is empty, available for art.
...and I have an order of vanished nuns in my head.