Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself
where she may lay her young,
even Your Altars, O Lord of Hosts.”
We see our daughter, Sister Mary, only yearly, not because her convent restricts family visits—we are not only allowed, but welcome, in spite of the fact that we don’t share the same brand of Christian faith—but because of distance. This year, on account of one sister’s hospitalization and other convent work, Mother Superior apologized that Mary couldn’t take her usual day off for a picnic or sightseeing with us.
We felt no resentment, only pleasure in the time we did have. Skus had brought a jigsaw puzzle for spare time in the guest house; he worked on it when resting from his work in the raspberry patch, and the three of us worked on it together. We weren’t just putting a puzzle together; we were re-living long-ago puzzles and board games, bedtimes stories; re-creating the best of her childhood.
Mary and I peeled and cored apples, rescuing the bruised and wasp-nibbled fruit that wouldn’t keep for an apple cobbler. The three of us began outdoors on a pleasantly warm sunny day. Then a couple of wasps appeared. Mary and I shooed Skus back to the raspberry patch because he’s allergic to stings, and when the wasps not only tried to lick the apple juice from our fingers but invited their friends and relations to the feast, we moved indoors.
I enjoyed working with our daughter as much as if we had been gallivanting around elsewhere, and the sister on kitchen duty served a delicious apple crisp.
Furthermore, Skus and I love to listen to our “little girl” (but that was 40 years ago!) reading or chanting during services. Our opinion is that she has the most clear, most pleasingly cadenced and pitched tone, of all the sisters. Certainly the sweetest to OUR ears. Of course Sister Veronica’s parents, who were visiting at the same time, might have a different opinion.
There’s a bird feeder outside the dining room window frequented mostly by chickadees and nuthatches at this time of year.
When I enter or exit the side door, I hear “chick-a-dee-dee-dee.” It sounds cheerful, but I suspect the correct translation is “My territory, my territory, my territory.”
Our Maria Louise is the swallow nesting by the altar, and although she is not possessive like the chickadees, the convent is Sister Mary’s territory.