Lost Weekend

When I was in Catholic high school, taught by Benedictine nuns, I was chosen, with my bff KB and assorted other female classmates, to take part in a bizarre event called A Benedictine Weekend.

We were chosen, I think, in the mistaken belief that we might become nuns. (I remember that a couple of the chosen did later take the veil.)

Late Friday afternoon, carrying our little overnite cases, this raggedy bunch of miscreants was loaded on a school bus headed for the Benedictine Motherhouse in Atchison, Kansas.  For the next two days, we were supposed to  live the life of postulants ( the larval state of nunnage).

Since this involved silence, thoughtful prayer and no laughing,  we failed absolutely.

It started with the evening meal on Friday, which was yummy.  We ate in silence.  Except that KB and I, as usual, got the giggles.

Saturday was a blur.  I think we were trudged around the motherhouse, lectured on the life of nuns and the Rule of St. Benedict.  You know, every teenaged girl’s dream.

Saturday night was exceptional. The room where we slept was made up of curtained “cells”.  The curtains were hung from suspended, interconnected tubing.

The room’s windows overlooked  one of the college dorms, where girls coming home from dates made out at the entrance with their young men before saying goodnight.  This was definitely more like it!

We stood on the beds by the windows, observing and eagerly whispering and evaluating the maker outers activity.

The noise attracted the attention of a nun who strode into room demanding to know what was going on.

it turned into a cartoon of girls scampering back to their beds, with one misjudging her jump and banging her head on the tubing, making it reverberate throughout the room.  Like bedwetting toddlers, we received a blistering nun lecture on how disappointed she was, while we tried to muffle our laughter into our postulant pillows.

The final nail in our potential nun career was being awakened at four a.m to attend mass in a cold chapel.  I sat next to K.B, shivering.  Her nose started to run.  She searched her pockets in vain for a tissue.  I did the same. With no other option, she began wiping her nose on her sleeve, which sent us into waves of forbidden church laughs.  It was the best.

The ride home was mostly silent, filled with shame, disappointment, and the occasional muffled snort of laughter.

There was no joy in nunville.  But I still laugh about it nearly 60 years later.





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