As I tossed (or heavily threw) around the idea of actually moving to New York and leaving my loved ones behind in Minnesota, I found that my pros and cons listed consisted of the same theme-values.
As much as I hate to admit it, I too perfectly ascribe to the modern-day contemporary popular views, which shape our ultimate values (many ushered through our minds thanks to the popular media).
Leaving my home, my territory, my state (Prince lives here, we’ve got 10,000 lakes..Yes this is taken directly from and is meant to be read as Atmosphere’s Always Coming Back Home to You: Say Shhh beat).
I’d also be leaving all of the solid relationships and my cats behind.
Another con: I would be volunteering for a Catholic agency and wasn’t really sure how much I would have to pray/talk about how awesome God is.
Pros: Uhhhhh living in NYC?!?! How many movies and advertisements are based in arguably “The greatest city in the world”?
Other pros: being independent, making a life for myself, pursuing potential other job leads.
(Not an exhaustive list.. believe me, I am a deeper thinker than this…but for the purpose of keeping this a blog and not a book, we’ll just go with these).
Well, I did leave to pursue my own dreams thinking of mostly just my future, seeing this as a chance to do something so many people want to do (see/live in NYC). Even at the airport when I saw my mother unsuccessfully try to hold back tears, I couldn’t help my excitement… I was going somewhere other than “backwards” MN.
Okay so first con was conquered in my mind… now I just had to ascribe to the whole outdated Catholic thing for a while. I knew I loved what the church taught me about social justice and thought that I could try to justify the Catholic institution thing holding onto that.
Before I left, and even on the plane to orientation, I read Christopher Hitchen’s book, god is not Great (Thanks Lane) where Hitchens gives many insights as to how the institutions of religion are not necessary or timely in the modern day.
Some excerpts that Hitchens uses that I thought usefully validate this are:
In the dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night and a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When day comes, however, it is foolish to use blind men as guides. (43)
He goes on to explain-
There would be no such churches (Christian) in the first place if humanity had not been afraid of the weather, the dark, the plague, the eclipse, and all manner of other things now easily explicable. (65)
The scholastic obsessives (priests..clergy..intellects..ect.) of the Middle Ages were doing the best they could on the basis of hopelessly limited information, ever-present fear of death of judgment, very low life expectancy, and an audience of illiterates. (68)
After reading these passages and others like them on the plane I couldn’t fathom why I didn’t realize this sooner. Then oddly, my brain took me on a journey down St. Mary’s High School memory lane to sophomore year when the girls in my grade (all 13 of us) took a vocations trip and spent a day or two at the Rochester motherhouse where we hung out with sisters who hosted us. What I remember most from the trip was a late night discussion with the very real, down-to-earth head sister who spoke about how the numbers of sisters were dwindling and how her profession and way of life just weren’t practical anymore. I remember her saying, “No one wants to be a sister anymore because the culture is changing, everyone wants kids of their own and wants to make their life theirs, not God’s.”
I used this memory only to compound the fact that I thought the church was just around for men to keep traditions and money.
As I arrived at the orientation retreat “mansion” I came to reexamine this dying profession. During the beginning of the week, I sat among, and listened to, these kind, charismatic, adventurous, noble and strong women-everything I want to be-and they all happened to be sisters. I looked upon their compassionate eyes as they spoke eloquently about their travels, and wisdom with their intelligent and informed words. I was blown away and thought back to the mother in Rochester who reminded me exactly of them. I remembered back to thinking how cool she was and how amazing these women around me were.
As the week went on, we found out that the retreat mansion was closing due to lack of funding and interest, and consequently the sisters residing and working there were all to be displaced.
After the empathizing in my mind, I wondered, what will the world be like without a league of these seemingly altruistic women doing the real work of social justice for the Catholic Church? Why of all professions does this one have to die out..this isn’t progress at all. To replace these women who worked for little (well except for the good of humanity and God, whichever comes first) and did great noble things (most of the time) is impossible.
Today, it’s hard to decipher what is actually success, progress and of value. Sure, jobs and free-thinking are super important, but so are true relationships, genuine love, social justice and compassion. Individualism as our society deems successful only breeds animosity. I know the glitter and concrete of NYC will not give me the happiness or feeling of worth or belonging that my relationships love and the people still in MN do. So while I have left to pursue my own dreams and the famed NYC… I’ll keep listening to Atmosphere’s words,
“Follow the dream doesn’t mean leave the love
Roam if you must, but come home
when you’ve seen enough.”