Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Conclave-Portland August 2011

Into the Heart of the Conclave - Nuns & Roses

The 2011 Conclave of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – Portland, Oregon

By Novice Sister Petunia Encarnata

I was a bit scared yet filled with excitement when I arrived in downtown Portland on Monday August 15th, 2011 all by myself. This was to be my first event (ever!) with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence outside of Vancouver, BC. I had an idea of the event schedule, but I had butterflies in my stomach as I knew nobody in this gathering of North American nuns and guards.

“Welcome, dear Petunia,” were the first words I heard after I knocked on the door of my Portland hosts. I was led into the Convent, the unassuming and inviting house shared by my the amazing and generous Guards Noah Shame & his partner Lance Boyles and Sister Mona Little More. I felt immediately at home and soon we were all involved in the art of putting on our sacred white faces, out on the deck in the backyard, getting ready for the Conclave opening ceremonies.

Surrounded by roses and a beautiful water fountain, the Conclave’s participants, after a short ritual, started dancing and singing ‘We Are Family’ declaring the Conclave open. The Portland Sisters named two saints and we shared delicious cocktails, mingled and introduced ourselves to one another. To my delight, I ran into our Abbey’s Mistress of Novices, N.Sr. Ethica Slüt.

All apprehension on my part was gone by the time we arrived at the next venue where the Portland Sisters delivered checks to the grant recipients of this year’s fundraising efforts. Any reservation I had was replaced with a sense of camaraderie and joy. The Portland Sisters gave away about $6,000 U.S. to community organisations!

The next three days were filled with educational workshops where we shared the dynamics and particulars of being Sisters. Some of the topics included ‘The Sacredness of the White Face’, ‘Elements of Rituals’ and ‘HIV / AIDS Prevention Education’. Soon into the heat of the workshops, I realized what really impressed me most about this community of nuns. It was the seriousness of their commitment and the generosity with which they give back to their communities. The Sisters embrace diversity very well and I was thrilled to meet among the members bio-women, transsexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, gay men and everything in between (I have yet to find a straight man among them!). There are smokers, drinkers, addicts and people in recovery. Some who were religious and non-religious, spiritual and non-spiritual, atheists, agnostics, Christians and non-Christians, those who like rituals and those who don’t.

Thursday evening was particularly special for me. During the day we applied everything we learned to create a public blessing ceremony for the City of Portland and a renewal of our vows and commitment to the Sisterhood. After the blessing, in which we invoked the elements and read aloud the poem “Ode to Portlandia”, we faced the people present in Pioneer Square and renewed our vows. Some of the citizens were moved to tears. Then we dispersed to mingle with the community giving and receiving hugs. Some moved on to do bar ministry, dancing our hearts and heels away till well past midnight.

I came back to Vancouver renewed and refreshed from the love and energy of my encounters and re-commitment to my universal vows. This experience taught me that no matter how others see us or how mainline religions perceive us, the Sisters are here to stay. We’ll continue to spread our wings to the ends of the Earth flying in the space and time of compassion, joy and a guilt-free world. God save the Sisters!

No comments:

Post a Comment