When I woke up this morning, I never could have predicted that one of my elementary school teachers, a Catholic nun named Dorothy Collins, would be introducing me to a man named Cynthia, a former Harvard Student now homeless, or a man who rides the C train at night in place of sleeping at a shelter. Let me explain.
There are people in our lives who have a profound impact on us and Sr. Dorothy is one of those people for me. My family moved to Connecticut in the Summer of 1983 when I was 9 years old and that meant my twin brother Jimmy and I would be starting the 1983-1984 school year in a new school. I was entering 4th grade and I was nervous; that nervousness turned to fear when I found out a nun would be my teacher because my prior experiences with nuns was not so good. My first grade teacher, Sr. Peter Marie, made Joe Pesci’s Tommy Devito character from Goodfellas seem like a nice guy. Luckily for me Sr Dorothy was nothing like I expected; she had a big smile and an even bigger heart (and she never asked if she was there to amuse me).
We re-connected recently at a school reunion and I asked to interview her for my podcast. She accepted on the condition that I help her serve guests at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea where she volunteers a few days a week. Our interview picks up right after we served hot meals to approximately 1,200 homeless people in New York (she calls them as well as the other volunteers her friends). Listen to this interview and your assumptions of what a nun is may be challenged. Listen to the end and you will hear me drop the tagline, “looks like a pump but feels like a sneaker” (do any of you remember that Easy Spirit commercial with the nuns playing basketball?).
I feel strongly that we should say thank you to the people in our lives who have had an impact on us. However, reflecting on this makes me realize that as people have an impact on me, I also have an impact on others. This is something we should all remember whenever we are in the presence of someone whose life we may be touching.
As always, I hope you enjoy this podcast and feel free to join the conversation at www.uncorkingastory.com