13. May 2013 · Comments Off on Silence is Golden · Categories: N. Grail School Year

There are many visitors this Sunday.  The dining room has been extended into the front hall.  Almost from the start of the meal it seems that the designated servers are not keeping up.

The presiding staffer is getting frustrated.  She wants to do her reading before dessert and the singers should start when people are having their coffee.

Instead, half the tables are cleared while other people are still eating because their food arrived late.  The meal is taking too long.

I am at a table in the front hall.   Maybe I can help out the designated servers.  I ask Kathleen, a staffer, if I should clear our table.  She says yes.

Finally, the leader stands up at the head table and tells the designated servers to come forward.  She reprimands them and metes out some punishment.  I watch this harsh dressing down from my seat.

I feel sorry for the servers.  After all, they are all new at this.  Is it necessary to humiliate them?

I notice that while everyone in the room has returned to normal conversation, it is quiet at our table.  Everyone is watching Kathleen and she is staring at me.  If looks could kill, this one would be prosecutor, judge and executioner.  There is no defense or appeal.

I know in an instant that she deems me a shirker for not coming forward and taking my punishment with the servers.  She doesn’t have to say it.   It would do me no good to remind her that I am not a designated server but was only helping to move things along out here.

She is not interested in reasoning with me.  She has perfected that look.  It works too.  All the others know who the sinner is, though maybe not the transgression.  They shun me for the rest of the meal.

I am horrified.

I am new here.  Even though I think they are unfair and cruel, I don’t want to be shunned.   It is a small point to concede.  Before lights out I write Kathleen a note saying that she is right, and that I am sorry.  Then I slide the note under her door.

But then horror turns to anger.   Why am I accepting this?  Shunning someone as a group in that arrogant way is not just bad manners.  It is behaving like a mob, a kind of barbarism.   The nuns would not allow this.

At this moment I promise myself that never again will I grovel this way.  If I don’t agree, I will keep it to myself.   If I dissent, I will be silent.  It is their school.  But I will not cringe.  I will not be false to myself.

Suddenly all those long periods of forced silence reveal an unintended golden lining.

Kathleen does not bother to acknowledge my contrition.


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