Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 13

CLARE was silent for a while and then turned to Joan.

“What about that other thing we talked about?” she asked.

“Do you want to talk about it to all the sisters?”

“Yes, Mother, better get it said,” Clare replied.

Joan clapped her hands for silence.

“Sister Clare has a problem. Now we all know that a problem shared is a problem halved and I hope you can all put your thinking caps on to help with this.”

“What is it, Sister?” a concerned Madeline said.

“Well, it’s like this.” Clare looked a bit shamefaced. “I have a problem in pronouncing the name of our new sister.”

“Gianna Rosella is not so difficult,” Gianna said.

“But I keep forgetting it!” Clare replied, her cheeks coloured with embarrassment. “If only it was more, sort of, simple.”

“It is simple to me!” Gianna declared, her dark eyes beginning to flash.

Joan held up her hand.

“We do not argue over a name, sisters. It is how we conduct ourselves and help others to feel comfortable that matters, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Mother.” Gianna held herself to her full height. “You may call me what you please.”

Although she accepted Joan’s remonstration, her attitude was still one of defiance. Joan could see that there was still a pride about her. Sometimes, Joan conceded, that could be an advantage.

After all, Gianna had in the past given more orders than she had taken when she had controlled a restaurant. Giving that up to follow a vocation would prove to be a difficult task for her, but that same strength could assist her through obstacles that she may have to face in the future.

A small voice, almost a whisper, came from the chair beside the fire. Sister Benedict sat with the recipe book on her lap. She hardly looked up, but spoke softly.

“Maybe a short name that we can all remember would be good. Something that sounds – more English,perhaps?”

Joan looked around with surprise.

“What would you suggest, Sister?” she asked quietly.

The new nun lowered her eyes so that they could hardly see her face.

“How about – Jan?” She turned her attention to the book again.

Sister Clare’s face beamed with delight.

“Why! That’s the name of my youngest sister at home in Ireland, Janet. I like that.”

“Jan! Sister Jan.” All the nuns made noises of approval. “That’s nice! We can all remember that!”

Joan turned to Gianna.

“How do you feel about the name, Sister? After all, it’s up to you.”

“If it makes my sisters happy then I agree.” She smiled. “After all, it isn’t going to change the excellence of my pasta! I reintroduce myself to everyone. I am Sister Jan and I have come to improve your kitchen.”

Sister Clare gasped and the nuns burst into laughter, even Sister Benedict.

“There she goes again, and I still don’t know what in heaven’s name polenta is!” Clare exclaimed over the hubbub.

The evening passed quickly and soon it was time for prayers and bed. As they filed out of the sitting room to go to the chapel Joan put her hand on Sister Benedict’s sleeve.

“Tomorrow, Sister, you will attend chapel with us for morning prayers. And after that Sister Madeline and I will come to your room upstairs to attend to your medical requirements,” she said quietly. “As you are here with us you will join in as many of our activities as you can. No matter how difficult it may be for you.”

She squeezed the nun’s arm.

“That shall be the way of things until you are well. You cannot hide upstairs all the time.”

Sister Benedict inclined her head.

“As you wish, Reverend Mother.”

“After breakfast I want you to come to my study, for I feel it is time for us to have a little talk.”

“Yes, Mother. I think it is time.” Sister Benedict followed the others into the chapel.



Alison Cook