Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 10

JOAN sat at her desk reading through the file of Sister Gianna Rosella. All was quiet in the house, the sisters going about their daily tasks. There was not much post to attend to, just gas and telephone bills. The phone rang and Joan picked up the receiver.

“Hello, Stella Maris Convent – Sister Joan speaking,” she said.

“Mother Catherine, my dear sister. I thought you would like to know that Sister Flora has settled in very contentedly. Our medical team have assessed her and Sister Madeline’s diagnosis was correct. You were wise to let her return to us.”

“Is she – is Flora happy?” Joan ventured.

“Most happy, we are glad to say. Flora is a gentle soul and is fitting in very well with the other ladies here in retirement.”

“I’m so glad,” Joan said. “The sisters will be pleased, too; they’ve all been anxious about her.”

Mother Catherine chuckled.

“You and the sisters will also be glad to know that Henry is contented also. We have an orchard here, as you know, and Flora declares that he spends a lot of time there caring for the apples.”

They discussed briefly the two new arrivals before Mother Catherine rang off.

Joan continued to study the new files and to make decisions about them both, making notes of her own thoughts in pencil in the margins. Presently Sister Clare came in, and sat on the chair by Joan’s desk. She sighed deeply.

“What is it, Clare?” Joan asked.

“To tell you the truth, Reverend Mother, I wish the new nun had not been assigned to me.” She clasped her hands tightly in her lap. “Why the good Lord sent Sister Jinny Rosie-what-you-may-call-her to cause havoc in my kitchen is beyond me!”

“The Lord has his own reasons and it’s our kitchen,” Joan corrected her gently. “And we must accept whoever the Mother House sends. This nun probably has a talent that should not be supressed. I’m sure she is here for the good of us all.”

“Well! This morning’s porridge certainly was not for the good of us all. It was burned! God bless them all for eating it without a murmur. However, our extra nun sent it back from her room via poor Sister Emma!”

“Did you show Sister how to cook it? She would not be accustomed to providing it in France,” Joan pointed out.

“I told her, to be sure – but she just turned the heat up too high.”

“Neither would she be accustomed to our stove,” Joan said quietly.

“I’m ever so sorry, Mother,” Clare said. “But I couldn’t go bottling it all up inside me, I just had to come and speak to you about how I feel. Already she’s crossing off half the shopping list and writing in things I’ve never even heard of. Polenta – now what’s that, I ask you.” Clare raised her hands in despair. “And even her name – I can’t get my tongue around it, and that’s not very welcoming, is it?” Sister Clare sighed. “When I was a little girl I had a ginger kitten called Bubbles. I wish I had him back again instead! I’m much better off on my own, you know. I can manage the kitchen very well alone and a cat would be so useful for the mice.”

Joan could see clearly that Clare was upset. The change in the pattern of her daily life was something that had to be sorted out here and now.

Alison Cook