The Cloister

There are moments in life when you must smile because the unthinkable seems to happen regularly. I was asked much to my surprise to give a three day retreat to a group of cloistered sisters, and to be frank I was shocked that they actually requested me.My hair was in the middle of my back, my belt was so wide that it could hold up the Brooklyn bridge and my pants were so flared at the bottom that a stiff wind could float me to Chicago. This sartorial splendor was capped off by platform shoes that made me three inches taller. It was a blessing that there was a huge floor to ceiling grill between me and the holy sisters.

It was to some degree strange to be talking about spirituality with persons that could buy and sell me on the spiritual scale, and also difficult to ascertain without eye contact what was actually happening. As a speaker I could always tell how I was being received, but in this case there was on the receiving end total silence. I gave it my all, but to this day I have no idea what they thought of my words. One humorous part of the three days was that the sister who was in charge of feeding me was obviously elderly and had some sort of brain impairment. After serving me breakfast I went out of my way to tell her much I enjoyed the lamb chops. Little did I realize that this piece of feedback would warrant extra lamp chops for lunch, dinner breakfast and an afternoon snack.

One of the professors that I have grown close to is Harold Greenwald the founder of Decision Therapy. He is a brilliant therapist ,teacher and an avowed atheist. One day in class after everyone had left he asked to see me.His opening salvo was “How can anyone as bright as you buy into the fables of religion? “I smiled and knew his question was not meant to bait me or lure me into a confrontation. I answered that much of what he referred to as fables has little impact on my life but the Christ figure is compelling and beckons me to be more than I can be. I rolled off the Beatitudes and told him that these were the signposts of my faith.He responded that he was fascinated by how rooted the clergy in the program were and though he did not subscribe to our beliefs he admired the behaviors and dedication to others.

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