Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spring in Tynong

We’ve got the lot here in Tynong right now: Blue Skies, a Bright Golden Haze in the Meadow, Cattle Standing Like Statues – the overwhelming conclusion is that It Might As Well Be Spring!!! I can’t help but think that it’s a particularly lovely day for St Therese’s Feast – after all, isn’t her autobiography properly called “The Story of the Springtime of a Little White Flower”? I know it’s been published as “The Story of A Soul”, but I’m pretty sure her manuscript had the other title. Anyway, there is ample evidence it’s springtime around here, as well as plenty of little white flowers – it’s like St Therese is just waiting to be asked for favours!

The days haven’t always been like this. Back in July, we here in the Novitiate strapped ourselves in for a long, wintery Term 3, and we are now reaping a delightful reward for our perseverance. These holidays, thus far, have been just glorious.
Admittedly, they had a bit of a rough start. We were all subjected to a Philosophy exam on the Tuesday of the first week, reducing our conversation material to gibberish about the meaning of prime matter and the continuum of time and the First Celestial Sphere that Aristotle was so keen on. (All Greek to you? It still is to us. Actually, it very nearly was, quite literally, in Greek. Someone lost their composure, presumably as the result of a brain compromised by the stress of it all, and asked Father if he was going to write our questions in Latin. (I personally think that there was quite enough for us to worry about, without giving Father ideas…) Anyway, Father said that if he did so, our answers would have to be in Latin. Then he changed his mind and said that, seeing as Aristotle spoke Greek, he should actually write it all in Greek. We must have looked so horrified that he took pity on us and gave it to us in English in the end.

I must also add here that I am extremely grateful to Father and Mother for mercifully changing their original plans and making the exam on Tuesday and not prolonging the agony until Thursday. Thank you!) Nevertheless, by Tuesday 12:30p.m. it was finished, and we were officially On Holidays!!! (And subsequently forbidden by one of the non-exam sitters to refrain from talking Philosophy any more.)
Our itinerary since that day has been splendidly full of holiday activities. Here’s a thumbnail sketch:

Stop No. 1: Wilson’s Promontory

Wednesday was devoted to this outing. The drive was extremely scenic – we even saw a real live echidna crossing the road (very slowly), and an emu scurrying through the bush! – and after about 3 hours we arrived at the inventively named Squeaky Beach, which, you guessed it, squeaks when you walk on it. Besides that, it has giant rocks gathered on one side, which form a kind of natural maze. Have a look!

 We then took a short walk to the next beach, Picnic Beach, with more interesting rock formations. W.S. Gilbert could have been writing about us, with his “Climbing over rocky mountain, skipping rivulet and fountain, passing where the willows quiver…” (Not that I saw any willows, but I’m sure you get the idea). Some brave souls even tested the water temperature…

 And then, all of a sudden, it was time to go home. We all bundled into the van, some sleepy, some a little bit (that’s a euphemism) wet, but everyone happy from the delightful day out. Incidentally, we have found that singing is very good for preventing motion sickness. We really should do a randomized controlled trial one of these days. We could call it the SIMPLE Trial (Singing Intended for Motion-sickness Prevention on Lengthy Expeditions). [Expressions of Interest: please contact The SIMPLE Coordinator, Rosary Convent, P.O. Box 50, Tynong, VIC, 3813.]

Stop No. 2: Mother Micaela’s Feast Day

Now, being a mere infant in the Convent world, the 29th of September was a very exciting day for myself and the other postulants – our First Michaelmas! Visions of postulant garments with “My First Convent Michaelmas” emblazoned on them rose before my mind’s eye, but they never materialized, for there was much more important work to be done. One cannot let one’s Mother Prioress General’s Feast Day pass without proper celebration, you know. Thus, the latter part of the week was spent in preparation for the big day, which included menus, decorations, and the entertainment. The end result was most satisfactory: we had an array of stir-fried dishes, the flavour balances expertly titrated by a brilliant Asian postulant, a delectable fruit cake, gorgeous flowers everywhere under Sister Johanna’s artistic direction, and a performance from an all-star (which translates into all-Convent, with the exception of Mother herself) cast. There was a dramatic recitation, a new Hymn penned for the Feast, and a superbly choreographed Spanish musical number. I won’t go into more detail, because I know some people are shy, but we’ll tell you more about it if you come for a visit J

 Stop No. 3: A Postulant Birthday

Monday brought yet another reason to keep the holiday mood alive: A Birthday! (Postulants don’t have religious names yet, quite obviously, which is why they get to celebrate birthdays instead of Feast Days.) Now, postulant birthdays are *always* very jolly, but having one in the holidays was even more so! Besides having a bit more time to construct an interesting cake and prepare an interesting meal, there was time to go on a Secret Outing (as it was advertised), which turned out to be a Table Tennis Competition! While some were happy to have a leisurely, genteel game of ‘keep the ball alive’, others got serious. There was a draw, complete with seedings, and a tabulated method of progression through the various elimination rounds. We weren’t disappointed with the grand final, either. By this stage, even the leisurely, genteel Sisters had their interest piqued (probably by the rambunctious ones who had been eliminated and were now following the remaining matches with avid interest), and all eyes were trained on the two finalists – Mary and Sister Anthony (incidentally seeded #1 and #2, respectively). In the end, Sister Anthony’s deft ball placement saw her take the honours in a 15-13 five-deuce thriller. The delighted crowd, who rather indiscriminately cheered for one and then the other, in between Mexican waves and crowd chants, was probably more distracting for the contestants than anything else – but they certainly had a good time about it.

Stop No. 4: -------------

It hasn’t happened yet, but The Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, our Convent’s own Feast, is this Sunday! Watch this space for reports…

 So there you are – that’s what we’ve been doing in our holidays, and that’s why I said they were glorious at the beginning. And do you know what? I have a funny feeling that they wouldn’t have had quite the same sparkle if we hadn’t started off with that Philosophy exam along with a few preceding weeks of hard work. It really is true that the sun shines brighter after a stormy night, and it’s worthwhile to remember that this is true in one’s spiritual life, too – every time of trial is only temporary, and it is inevitably followed by a time of joy and consolation which is better than if you had never been tried in the first place; God does look after us so very well. 

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