Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Independent Women

I can't let go of the feelings I had at the nun's monastery: Santa Barbara, also known as the holy monastery of Rousanou, in Meteora.

Meteora means "middle of the sky," or suspended in the heavens.

Aside from the miracle of its existence, it is a place of incredible peace and devotion. The views are fantastic, the air is pure. That the monastery exists on a pillar of rock, seems to say, "Stand up and fight. Be unique, strong. Choose your existence."

The nun's monastery differs distinctly from the monk's. The immaculate stone floors, the dressed windows, the potted plants, the overall cleanliness; it had "the woman's touch."

A neat, tiny gift shop was tucked into one of the corners where the nuns sold their own marmalade, honey from their hives, olive oil, embroidered napkins, cosmetics and creams from bee royal jelly and hand rolled candles from beeswax.

The few nuns we encountered were old. Very old. And again we wondered, why did they choose a reclusive life on the top of a rock.

Susanna called it the ultimate woman's getaway.

She may be on to something.

They started living at the monastery in the early 1500s. They gave up marriage and children; but in the 1500s, perhaps the traditional expectations for a woman, were the difficult expectations. In a world where women had no say in their lives, the monastery may have meant freedom. Freedom to live a quiet life, to live a life of devotion, to be in control of their own lives. To be free of patriarchal control.

The only dependency on men would have been waiting for the priest to come and hold mass, my friend reminds me.  But I have a different take: "I bet they didn't wait."

Cheers to two (what I would consider), modern day independent women.