Originally posted December 9, 2013
“I believe in loyalty. We should respect our Church, but never believe that the Church has the last word. The Church is saying “this”, but I believe that sooner or later “this” will change. “This” is not the mind of our Lord. God is all love. It’s a delicate balancing thing. The Church has changed its position over the years, and because the spirit is with the Church, in the end the Church will always get it right. But in the end. The spirit of the Church is the meaning of love, which hasn’t yet, perhaps, been fully understood,”
~ Sister Wendy Beckett on the subject of gay marriage
Most of us rarely hear the words “erotic” and “nun” in the same sentence.
That is, unless, you had a Catholic-school crush that permeated into the current kinks of your daily life.
However, whether you believe in God or not, we all have some form of the erotic nun archetype within ourselves. And while it’s true that nuns do not have sex, that does not mean that they do not have an erotic life.
To the contrary. I believe that many nuns have a rich and powerful connection to their own erotic energy. They’re married to Jesus Christ, for…well…Chrissakes!
First, let me define erotic. Its root word, eros, is Greek in origin and one of its meanings is “love as a fundamental creative impulse.” So while sexuality can be erotic, not everything erotic has to be sexual.
Eroticism is simply an experience of the world that is alive, vital, flowing, present and deeply connected to the powerful creative energy always surrounding us.
Some people may call that energy orgasm. Other people may call that energy source. Still others may refer to is as kundalini. Nuns call this energy The Holy Spirit. And to devote your life and your creative force in service of this divine energy is truly erotic indeed.
The nun archetype experiences the erotic as God revealing his/her self in every ecstatic moment. In every face. In every sunrise. In every routine chore.
When I think of the embodied erotic nun archetype, I look no further than Sister Wendy Beckett. She’s a South African-born nun who currently resides in England and is best known for her PBS specials where she shares with the audience the history and technical analysis of various paintings and sculptures.
What is evident in her voice is how much awe, reverence and passion she has for art. She speaks with pleasure and delight as she describes the sensual curves of the sky, the fruit, the women and all manner of subjects that the artists choose to express through their work.
“He’s not interested in the static, but in the moment, when things are moving and happening,” says Beckett, almost defining eroticism in her description of Bernini’s sculptures.
In fact, every word that comes out of her mouth seems to be a gourmet delight that she can not wait to share with her viewers. She does not balk in shame or disapproval when sharing the sexual ardor of the nude characters depicted in the paintings.
And the seemingly limitless well of wonder from which she draws is unconditional love for all God’s creatures.
We are, of course, familiar with the unintegrated, shadow aspects of the nun: spiritual narcissism, delusions of grandeur, disgust for things of the “earthly” realm, etc. And though we may be used to associating those aspects with women wearing the habit, they can often show up in our everyday lives: anorexics, sanctimonious “enlightened” gurus and even many “seekers” who can barely take care of their everyday needs all deny themselves pleasure in the pursuit of “purity” and condemn anyone who does not walk their perception of “the right way.”
Our work is to neither reject the nun nor uphold her as the sole source of guidance in our lives; but to listen to her, love her and honor her wisdom with balanced ears.
So let us learn a thing or two from the erotic essence of the nun, such as awe and passion for the greater powers that surround us, no matter how mundane or trivial they may seem.
Let us bow our heads in reverence to the mysteries that influence and guide us every day. Let our work be a prayer for more compassion and an act of service in honor of the divine. And may we all heed her invitation to dance with each other in the name of universal love.