17. May 2013 · Comments Off on Rules · Categories: N. Grail School Year

Each morning we rise early and walk to the parish church in Loveland.  We are not allowed to talk until after breakfast, so we walk by ourselves.   It is still a lovely walk for about one mile on a country road.

Daily Mass is part of the schedule.   Besides nuns and priests, Uncle Pedro was the only person I knew who went to six o’clock Mass every morning.

Someone comes with me to the bakery and shows me how to bake bread.   We bake forty loaves because students are arriving every day.  I like kneading the dough.  It is such a large batch that my arms sink into the bowl almost to my elbows.

The loaves come out of the oven begging to be tasted.  But I have been warned that we are not allowed to eat or drink between meals.

Someone with a clipboard tells me what to do every hour of the day until lights out.

Most of my day consists of manual chores.  Besides my work in the bakery, they assign me to other chores.   I learn to clean a room.  I am told that manual work is holy.  I already know that the work our amahs do is essential and to be respected.

The furniture here is simple.  I think of Ah Ngung threading an oiled cloth expertly through the lacework back of a rosewood chair.  She is so proud of her work even though no one sits in that parlor full of antiques if they can help it.

I sit on a folding chair in a semi-circle of women outside the canning kitchen and cut up apples.  No one is allowed to talk.

I am given forty-five minutes before lights out to do personal stuff like getting my clothes ready.

There is no escape from the clipboard, not even on Sundays.  There are no radios, no music except for our own a capella singing, no newspapers or magazines and no time to read anyway.   I see radios and newspapers and other normal things only in some of the staffers’ rooms.  It is puzzling.

Is this a school or a convent?

The women speaking for the staff insist that they are definitely not nuns.  They do not have a chaplain as nuns do because they want to be independent of priests, who are all men.

However, they are careful to say that the Archbishop is okay with that.  Their publications have his stamp of approval.  They definitely have his blessing and also his financial support.

The staffers keep repeating that they are lay people, they are not nuns, but they might as well be.   I guess they included me in their convent routine because I am here early.

I can hardly wait for the start of the school year when I can be just a student again.  Even the nuns who taught me since kindergarten know that I am not suited for the convent.


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