Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 02

DAYS passed and no more was said about Flora’s angel. The nuns busied themselves preparing for the next guest, whoever and whenever that might be. The lettuce and the radishes were tasted and declared the best ever and the tomato plants thrust their roots firmly into the soil, promising chutney, ketchup and salads. Sisters Amy and Louise, who had a very strong vocation for the garden, now discussed the merits of winter cabbage and declared that the blossom on the apple tree had set tiny fruit.

“Sister Flora put the teapot in the freezer the day before yesterday,” Clare whispered to Joan during a quiet moment with the week’s menus in the kitchen. “At first I thought I’d mislaid it myself, but when I went to get the frozen peas – there it was!”

“She’s an old lady, Clare,” Joan said gently. “A little absent-minded, maybe. If she does it again just take it out and put it in its place on the dresser.”

“But she’d made tea in it,” Clare protested. “She put the hot teapot on top of the mince and it defrosted! That’s why we had it on Monday instead of next week.”

Joan smiled.

“She’s just a little vague at the moment, Clare. Consider her age.”

“I’ll keep an eye on the teapot in future,” Clare said. “But that’s not the only thing she’s done with it.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well – this time she made the tea with cold water and put it in the microwave.” Clare sighed. “Oh, Joan, Flora’s such a dear, kindly sister, but I fear for her – I really do. She may do something to harm herself. Only this morning she put an egg in the microwave. I just rescued it in time before she switched on the oven and exploded it.”

Joan smiled.

“We must see that she doesn’t spend too much time in the kitchen,” she said. “I’ll find something for her to be busy with. Don’t worry any longer, Sister. I’m sure if we all remember to keep our eyes open no harm will come to her. Did it work, by the way – tea in the microwave?”

“Yes, Mother, remarkably it did.”

Joan patted Clare’s arm.

“Well, then, no harm done. Flora is in our care. That’s what we’re all about, isn’t it, loving and caring?” she said.

“Yes, of course it is.” Clare smiled.

Joan made her way back to the study to see to the day’s mail, making a mental note to be more aware of the older nun. Flora had been at the Stella Maris Convent long before Joan had arrived. Her wisdom and love had helped Joan to become accustomed to her role as Reverend Mother. Flora was a sister but also a very dear friend, and now, a friend in need.

There was a light tap at the door which broke into her thoughts.

“Come in!” she called.

“May I have a moment of your time for a few words?” Sister Emma came into the room. Joan indicated a chair by her desk.

“What is it, my dear?” she asked.

“When I went to bed last night I turned back the covers and our brown teapot was in there. Oh, it was perfectly clean and dry, but I think Sister Flora put it there.”

“What did you do?” Joan asked.

“I took it downstairs and put it back in the kitchen. I didn’t say anything to anyone until now.”

“You did right, Emma. If it happens again just do the same again and put it back without any fuss. We mustn’t upset Sister Flora. She probably went upstairs with it after the washing up and, being a little absent-minded lately, put it in your room.”

“Sister Flora’s a very old lady, isn’t she?” Emma observed softly.

“Yes, my dear, and because of that we must all take extra care of her,” Joan answered.

Emma smiled.

“I know – I’ll take her with me when I go to practise the hymns in the chapel. She’d like that and she can’t come to any harm there.”

“Well done, Sister. What a good idea. We must all be aware that she needs someone with her most of the time.”

“I’ll go and find her now.” Emma stood up. “She’s with Clare in the kitchen.”

The large brown teapot seemed to be the centre of Flora’s attention. Teatime was an important event in their day, a time for a little talk about happenings in the convent and the world.

Flora took great care in washing up the teapot, drying it more than thoroughly and putting it in a safe place until next time. Joan felt that this was a small and simple task for the elderly nun. Vocations take many forms and the care of the teapot was an outward sign of her love for them all.

Alison Cook