Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Christmas Tree Fire at the Convent for the Sisters of Ever Increasing Hope. Poor Sister Thelma. Bad Sister Edna Mary.

Sister Edna Mary of the Convent of the Sisters of Ever Increasing Hope
Celebrating her 100th birthday last January.

There is sad news in Cloverdale today. Sister Thelma, a nun in the order of the Sisters of Every Increasing Hope at Saint Bartholomew’s Parish in Cloverdale had a bit of an accident. Just after lunch yesterday, the sisters returned from the forest with the convent’s Christmas Tree. The nuns gathered to have a cup of tea and a warm around the common room’s fire before starting the decorations. Sister Edna Mary was asked to help with the tinsel. She struggled to unplug her backside from her scootermobile. The trip from the her electric scooter to the tree took the best part of ten minutes. She is capable of moving faster (just see how fast she moves when she finds out someone is heading down to the PiggyMart. She’s in the convent’s minivan, purse in hand and cigarette lit - in mouth, before the driver collects the keys off the peg by the door).

“What should I do?” she asked. “I’m here to help.”
Of course Sister Edna Mary and helping rarely went together. Supervise was a better choice of words.Sister Edna Mary stopped helping with anything at the Convent in 1993. That was the year she read several Lutheran missionary tracts and discovered she could be saved by grace and not by works. According to Martin Luther, all one had to do was accept the Lord as your Savior and heaven is yours. That doctrine was completely foreign to Sister Edna Mary. Up to that point her world was governed by works. Everyone knows that works play a major role in the life of a Catholic nun. In fact, that’s what they count on when their time comes and they stand at the Pearly Gates.

From that day forward, Sister Edna Mary rarely lifted a hand, except to light her cigarettes (Chain smoking was the one purely sinful delight Sister Edna Mary retained from her pre nun days as a school lunch worker). Every time she was asked to perform the even simplest tasks (the ones she didn’t want to do) she’d respond by waving you away with cigarette in hand sending ashes everywhere, saying “I’m saved.”

Sister Edna Mary stood by the tree. She didn’t like the fact that most of the tinsel was on the bottom 2/3 of the tree. Of course it would be that way because none of the nuns could reach high enough to put tinsel on the upper 1/3. Sister Edna Mary would have none of that.
“Sister Thelma, the step ladder,” She barked out. Sister Thelma did as she was told. Angering Sister Edna Mary wasn’t a good thing. She could say the most horrible words and darken the mood of the Convent so badly only a priest with a hose full of holy water could remove the gloom left in her mouth's wake.

Sister Thelma returned with the ladder.
“Up you go,” Sister Edna Mary said.
“I thought you wanted the ladder for yourself,” Sister Thelma replied. Sister Edna Mary exhaled the last puff from her Camel Lights in Sister Thelma’s direction and repeated her demand. “Up you go and I’ll steady the ladder.”

Sister Thelma climbed slowly and steadily up the ladder. Once on top she started to reposition the tinsel.Sister Edna Mary held the ladder with one hand and lit another Camel Light in the other. A moment later her cigarette came into contact with the tree. Sister Edna Mary wasn’t paying attention. Suddenly the tree caught fire.

“Fire!” Sister Edna Maryshouted as she abandoned the ladder and rushed to get her motorized senior citizen’s scooter out of harm’s way. Sister Thelma panicked and lost her footing. She fell into the tree and both came down hard onto the floor. The other nuns stomped the fire out and pulled Sister Thelma out from the branches. She was rushed to the clinic. She broke her arm in the fall. There was talk of a possible concussion. The clinic kept her overnight for observations.

The following morning Sister Edna Mary was the first in the van to visit Sister Thelma. Of course, her intention was not to visit Sister Thelma at all. The Piggy Mart was 1/2 a block from the clinic and Sister Edna Mary was nearly out of cigarettes.

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