One of the first things I noticed when I started hanging out with nuns (aside from their beautiful spirit!) is that there is such a thing as a Nun Car. It seemed that most of the cars in our fleet (kind of like the Spanish Armada of Nun Transport) were either Geo Prisms or Neons. As time went on I saw some Ford Focuses and Chevy Cavaliers in the mix and now we have some Toyota Prius hybrid cars which reflects our growing awareness of the environment and our care for all of God’s creation. Oh sure, we have a few oddballs like a minivan or two, an Alero and I think even a Scion. We briefly had a Cougar when one of our new members first came to the community but then one day the Cougar was gone with a modest yet somewhat sporty two-door Cavalier in it’s place.

I admit, I used to mock the Nun Car genre. I would always be amused when going to the mall or grocery store in Monroe and seeing a Nun Car. They were easily identifiable not only by the make but by the little crocheted thingie on the end of the antennae. It warmed my heart to know one of my nuns was nearby.

CarWell the time has come when one of those Neons will be my personal Nun Car. Up till now I’ve received oddballs which pleased me. But now, it’s a Neon. I feel like such a nun now. Understand, I’m in my thirties and have always loved cars and driving. I used to dream of having my own car — when I was younger it was a red Firebird Trans Am. Now it’s a blue Toyota FJ Cruiser.

I’m not sure what I expected when it was time for me to get a “new” car from Sister Carol, our Car Nun. (A Car Nun is the sister who is in charge of the fleet — all of our cars belong to the IHM Community, not to an individual.) But I guess I harbored a desire that she’d say, “You’re in luck! One of our sisters just returned from mission in Florida and she’s turning in her 1985 Firebird Trans Am. Hope you’re okay with red!”

That’s not what Sister Carol said to me, rather it was the news that a silver Neon was available. I of course thought of all my poking-fun at Neons and Nun Cars but then it dawned on me, I am a nun! Why not a Neon? More than that, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for my nun Sister Carol and for my IHM community that they were sensitive to my needs and also conscious of the needs of our whole community. The fact that I have a car for my use is such a gift. I treasure that it is not one of the “odd balls” of the fleet but one of the classic Nun Cars. Somewhere within, I’ve had to let go, and yes, grieve, the fact that I will never own the car of my dreams but I’m getting to be okay with that. It’s funny, I’ve been in the IHM community now for over 10 years and there are still bits and pieces of life as a nun I’m learning and perhaps more accurately deepening my understanding of.

I write this because I think it’s important to know that even when you commit to doing something — be it becoming a nun, or marrying the love of your life, or starting your dream job — there is always a growing in understanding what it is that you’ve actually done! It’s not like a vocation is a single stop and you instantly know everything and have reached the pinnacle of your experience. It grows, deepens, challenges, surprises!

For now I must go, I have an 8:00 a.m. appointment with my Car Nun to pick up the keys to my new-to-me Nun Car!