I saw an old movie recently with Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch, The Nun's Story. It seems to me that this is everyone's story. I have the feeling that we all come to a moment when we have a great struggle within ourselves as we try to come to terms with what is Truth for us. What is our defining moment? Perhaps we have many defining moments. This blog entry is about our search for ourselves and our own Truth. It is an entry about a turn in the road, a path taken or not taken. This entry is not about religion. This blog entry is not meant to invite any discussion about religion.
For most of us, I think our defining moment is not so clear-cut as Gabrielle's (Sister Luke's.)
Her defining moment was not when she entered the convent but when she left. What happens afterward is left untold.
God in Heavenletters™ tells us to let go of our past. And this is certainly a focus of this movie -- and the book it was based on, which I read many many years ago. Literally, Gabrielle had to leave her past. Even her name is changed.
I would say the path she chose was a way to get past ego.
Like all of us, Sister Luke wanted to be good and to serve God. She came to the conclusion:
The more I try to be good, the more I see my failings.
The theme of Sister Luke's life was obedience to God.
Later, she faced an impossible moral dilemma. Her father was a renowned doctor, and Gabrielle had grown up looking into a microscope. When she and some of her sisters were sent to medical school prior to going to the Belgian Congo, she naturally excelled in their studies. There was another sister who was not doing so well who, to my mind, was simply jealous of Sister Luke and complained that Sister Luke had too much pride.
Sister Luke felt uncomfortable with this other sister and went to her Mother Superior because, in vain, Sister Luke had tried to get beyond the antagonism that she felt from this other sister and the antagonism she felt within herself.
The Mother Superior's instruction was for Sister Luke to deliberately do poorly in the final exam. In the movie, this seemed to be portrayed as a way to lessen pride. To me, this was telling a lie. How many times have we seen ourselves as less than we are and, therefore, portrayed ourselves as less? I can't be the only one.
It seemed to me that Sister Luke was being instructed to lie. How can that be right to tell a lie, to live a lie?
But this is what Sister Luke, in her desire to be obedient, did. She had a worthy motivation, yet she became a fraud.
Years later, it was oh, so painfully difficult for her to make a final decision to leave the convent, to break her vows. The deciding moment seemed to be when her father was killed in the 2nd World War. I don't know how to explain the correlation, but it was there. This was during the Nazi occupation of Belgium.
As Sister Luke said to the Mother Superior:
I can fool the sisters. I can fool you, and I can fool myself, but I cannot fool God.
And so, with her shorn hair, and the clothes she had entered the convent with twenty or more years before, she left the community she had so joyously entered. She left alone, by herself, after so many years of belonging.
How I would love to know what happened to Gabrielle from then on. There was every indication that she would serve in the Resistance Movement, but, how was she, how was she on the inside?