Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 03

WHEN the teapot turned up on the altar in the chapel with a rose in its spout, even Joan became alarmed. It was time to take the situation seriously. After lunch, and making sure that Sister Flora was safely employed overseeing the repair by Imelda of Sister Madeline’s bicycle, Joan asked Madeline to come with her
to the study. There she poured out her fears to their nurse, who listened quietly.

“We must all take extra care of her,” Joan finished.

“We have to do more than that, Mother, I’m afraid.” Madeline sighed. “I’ve seen this before, many times in my years as a nurse. It’s serious, Mother. She may begin to wander off – maybe in the night. She needs more care than we can give.”

“I’m sure if we’re all vigilant we can look after her . . .” Joan began.

Madeline leaned forward and took Joan’s hand.

“My dear sister, there is no miraculous cure for Flora’s ailment. If we love her and want her to be safe we must act, and soon. The good Lord has given us the common sense to know what we must do, before the worst happens.”

“But she’ll be safe with us – for a little while longer, at least,” Joan pleaded. “Maybe you’re wrong and she won’t get any worse?”

Madeline shook her head.

“I’m sorry, Joan, but I know I’m right. I don’t want to undermine your authority, I’m just advising you as a friend. We must do something before . . .”

This time there was no polite tapping at the door. Imelda, breathless, ran into the room.

“Flora’s in the barn. She climbed up into the jolly hayloft when I wasn’t looking and she won’t come down. I’ve run all the way!”

Leaving Imelda to catch her breath, Joan and Madeline hurried through the house, out of the front door and across the driveway to the old barn. Flora was there smiling and peeping over the edge of the hayloft at the sisters gathered underneath.

“Hello!” she called when she saw Joan and Madeline. “Do come up and join us. My angel is here and dearly wants to meet you. His name is Henry and we’ve got the teapot all safe and sound.”

Sister Joan sat at the desk in her study with her hands folded, gazing at the telephone. The call that she was about to make would be very difficult but it had to be made. She picked up the receiver, pressed the buttons and waited.

“Stella Maris Mother House switchboard – how can I help you?” a gentle voice answered in French.

“Sister Joan, Stella Maris UK,” Joan replied. “Could you put me through to Mother Superior, please?”

“Certainly, Sister, just one moment, please.” The reply was in English.

“Sister Joan, my dear, what can I do for you?” The soft voice of Mother Catherine calmed Joan’s rapidly beating heart.

“Mother, I have something to tell you that I have been putting off, and I hardly know where to start.”

“I am listening. Just begin at the beginning, and I will not interrupt. Your troubles are also mine, you know.” Her voice was like a soothing hand gently taking Joan’s. Clutching the telephone that linked her to her Mother House, Joan poured out her worries and her heart to Mother Catherine.

“I’ve tried leaving it for a while – I’d hoped we could help her – but I honestly don’t know what to do for the best. I haven’t phoned the doctor yet for fear that he’ll have her taken away. I had to speak to you first. Flora woke me last night asking for permission to go and speak to her angel who was apparently waiting for her under the apple tree.”

“And what did you do?” Mother Catherine asked gently.

“I went with her,” Joan replied. “And I wept.”

“Don’t worry any longer,” Mother Catherine said. “Just hold on for a little while, and I shall arrange everything. I would like you to advise Father Anderson of the situation so that he can be at hand if Sister Flora needs spiritual guidance. It will take time to organise but we must all come to terms with the fact that it is time for Sister Flora to come home. And please make sure that the ladder to the hay loft is hidden!”




Alison Cook