Contributors Set apart

A little humility is the lesson of rushing to judgment

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM, is the Delegate for Religious and Consecrated Life for the archdiocese.

by Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman

My poor mother tried her best to raise a daughter who picked up after herself. But I must have been born with a gene that gave me the predisposition to sloppiness, especially in my own bedroom.

Mom often closed my door when she could no longer stand to see the piles of clothes on the floor or the unmade bed nearby.

Of course, as fate would have it, I had roommates in college whom I considered neat to the point of being neurotic.

For example, Molly positioned her perfume on the dresser so that, if anyone picked it up, she knew it had been touched or moved a millimeter to the right or to the left. I knew I would never want to be that way.

Once, when Mom picked me up from college before the Thanksgiving break, she looked from one side of the dorm room to the other. My roommate’s side was completely in order. My side looked, well, lived in. Clothes were tossed around and even crossed the invisible line separating our two sides of the room.

All Mom could say to me was, “Let me guess which side is yours!”

You can imagine what happened to my tendency for sloppiness when I entered the convent. Let’s just say that it went into remission pretty quickly.

I learned from my postulant director how to make my bed “hospital style” with nicely folded corners. The floor was completely free for walking traffic, and it was able to be cleaned with great ease and frequency.

You could say that I learned very quickly how to internalize what someone once said: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Several years later, I became the postulant director. The sloppiest person in my family, a perpetually recovering “slob,” was put in charge of telling our newest members to keep their rooms clean.

I have to admit that I didn’t always remember my roots.

The room of one of the postulants was, in my opinion, completely out of whack. I was frustrated by the lack of visible organization. So I knocked on her door and said, “Patty, you need to straighten up your room. The way our rooms look is an outward expression of what is going on inside our souls.”

She looked at me and said, “Sister, do you always wear your sweater inside out?”

I looked down. Patty was right. The outside of my sweater was on the inside, and vice versa. So much for preaching orderliness and godliness!

Maybe God was just reminding me that judgment is his.

In any case, I learned a little more humility that day.

About the author

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman

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