Sister Anna Alm, A Poor Clare

Sister Anna was grateful to have the old priest on the grounds today. She had been fighting with the groundskeepers about the fate of a bat who had flown into the building through an open window in the narthex; the groundskeepers had wanted to kill the little creature, seeming to take a cruel delight in the prospect and Sister Anna was not having it.

It did not matter to her that the bat had disrupted morning prayer where she and her sisters, Poor Clares one and all, had gathered to pray the liturgy of the hours as they did every day at the Basilica. The Sisters were not about to allow an animal to be hurt even if it shat all over them as it flew above their heads while they prayed the divine office.

Life was precious, even the life of a bat.

Sister Anna knew that she would have prevailed in her contest of wills with the groundskeepers; they may have been responsible for the building and its maintenance, and her demand that they capture and release the poor-creature may have been outside her normal sphere of authority, but she was more than a match for the group of men who had gathered in the transept to exterminate the little thing, and tiny as she was they were punching above their weight class in dealing with her, something that each of them was aware of even as they protested her demand.

Having Father Luke on hand to channel her will brought the matter to a resolution quicker, and his intervention allowed the men to walk away from the dispute with their pride intact. Once the old priest had listened to them he issued his judgement, ordering them to do as Anna asked, “If they knew what was good for them,” he said sardonically.

More than one of the Clares cracked a silent smile as Farther Luke warned the men to mind their manners, and Sister Anna thanked them for their good will as she walked out of the Saint Mary’s Basilica with the other nuns toward the van that would return them to their Parish.

She looked around her and over toward Jewett’s Park. It was hot and humid in the morning, the sky was greening and the air smelled of rain. They had a couple of stops to make on their way home, and she was eager to get on with the day.

Anna was looking out the window sitting in the passenger’s seat next to the driver as they crossed they crossed the bridge over the railroad and approached Lagoon, she saw a young man she knew crossing the street in front of the Walker Library: it was Johnny Holiday a boy from the orphanage up the hill from Saint Joan of Arc.

She imagined that she perceived a darkness hanging over him that had nothing to do with the thick clouds gathering in the late morning sky, and suddenly she was worried for him.