Theology in the Trenches: Secret Sister Club

Kathleen Kjolhaug
Religion Columnist

It begins in the wee hours of play time ... in the youth of let’s pretend ... in the majestic moments when all things are possible. It begins at the whimsical call in childhood when the brain conceives an idea and there is nobody around to tell you why it will not work. Your heart sings a song and within seconds it comes rolling on out in vocal intonations undeniably original. When one feels like having a parade, one gathers the neighborhood and off they march. Wanna-be a baseball star? Simply scramble to door posts and pound upon them. Soon at bat you are with all of the other wanna-bees in the neighborhood. How about a fashion designer? Snip and clip fabrics to place them upon dollies wheeled out ... perfect for such a time as this. 

That’s sort of how it all began you know, the Secret Sister Club. Attending a parochial grade school with nuns in full vestments as my teachers, was nothing short of amazing. Stalwart Christian soldiers were how I perceived them to be as their love poured out upon each of us. Coolest thing ever when Sister Kenric placed that Kleenex right on up her big flapping sleeve as she continued directing the second graders before her. Yup ... that did it for me. I wanted one of those sleeves to hide things in. It just looked cool!

And so, we gathered, the three of us. There was Joan, one other whose name I have forgotten, and myself. We met in a room upstairs ever so oft whispering in low tones. We’d speak about the possibility of joining the convent and dream our dreams. The Secret Sisters Club was born.

Off to the post office we would go with our letter which explained all of our hopes and dreams. In turn, the Franciscan Mother House would send us back a little packet which included a post card, prayer cards, and a general letter of greeting. Our hearts quickened when we actually received that response, and gather we would to share the good news.

Not sure how many times we actually met, but my best recollection is that it was several for sure. I remember well sitting in a circle upon the floor while passing the delivered goods round for all to see. Best part about it? Nobody knew. It was our secret.

Not a one of us became nuns, but truth-be-told, we were sisters of another kind. Each one shouldered up beside the other and so it goes. We were sisters in Christ just like those we stand shoulder to shoulder with today. 

As we look deeply into the eyes of the one God has placed beside us, we pray He finds us faithful in ways that are not so secret. Perhaps it’s as simple as a glance, a tender touch that validates. I not only see you, but I accept you where you stand. I see you in your loneliness. I see you in your weariness. I see that you have a different sense of style called “this is all I have in my closet because I’ve had no money to update.” I see the worried creases across your brow.

“How goes the day sister?” ... brings not only comfort but validation that indeed we are sisters.

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5). Amen.

(Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)