“Lifting the Veil”
Cheryl Reed grew up terrified of nuns. The long, black dresses they wore looked spooky and her fundamentalist family told her they were evil idol worshippers. As an adult, she met a nun for the first time and asked her about the monastic life of women. I would begin a journey that would span years and result in this spring’s Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns (Berkley).
Reed, now an investigative reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, began research that included several extended periods of living in monasteries, getting up in the middle of the night for prayers, sharing their meals, and helping with their ministries.
“Whatever they did, I did,” she says. “I helped deliver a baby in Texas.”
Because she immersed herself in their lives, the nuns were extraordinarily open with her. Far from robots who chant the policy line. They were a diverse group of women with one common thread – they had sacrificed everything most women treasure for their calling.
The project has changed her irreversibly, Reed says. Shortly after her return to the newsroom, she was dubbed “the feminist writer” because of how strong her views had become.
“When you live in a community where everything is run by women, it really changes your perspective,” she says. “It’s not about politics or trying to get favor because of your sex. It’s just doing the right thing.”
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