Imagine a phalanx of Sisters striding purposefully down the hallway, each pushing a wheeled conveyance topped high with teetering boxes. Then imagine that each Sister has a floor lamp or curtain rods or some other such contraption in her other hand as if it were a javelin ready for the throw, and well, you’ve got the picture of a cavalry charge. About all I can do in the face of such an onslaught is to press myself against the wall and hope for the best! Except that I’m just as likely to be part of the cavalry, trying hard to steer my “steed” and not knock over anything or anybody along the way.
When it comes to getting the contents of thirty-something bedrooms, three community rooms, numerous offices, several parlors, a dining room, an infirmary, and a conference room from one building to another, you can’t imagine the creativity of a bunch of Sisters and monastery staff as to how to get it there. We’ve used kitchen carts, little red wagons, a flat-bed cart pulled with an old knotted rope, an upright push cart, and a home-made plywood platform complete with rubberized edging nailed along the side. And then there’s my favorite – a Hoyer Lift from the infirmary that an employee converted into a flatbed handcart. It can be stacked high, higher, and highest with boxes of library books or blankets or book cases or coffee tables or whatever happens to be next on the list to move. And all that’s just the small stuff. For a few days we also had professional movers handling the big stuff.
It is times like this that renew my amazement at the strength, creativity, cooperation, and just plain ole’ determination and hard work of our Sisters. When something needs to be done, we somehow get it done. But if we need help we are not afraid to ask for it, and a project of this scope definitely requires help. Our monastery employees have been invaluable partners in getting us moved, not to mention the tremendous assistance we’ve had to get us to this point in the renovation project – benefactors, architects, contractors, carpenters, painters, and on and on all the way to the cement guys who have the job of sloshing around in wet cement wearing oversized boots and rubberized leggings and making me nervous as I watch and wonder what will happen if they stand still in the concrete for too long.
Between us all – whether professional contractor with clipboard and cell phone or generous benefactor or elderly Sister with a couple of boxes stacked on her walker – we are all the cavalry charging the hill to return us to our monastic home. It feels great! Like climbing an endless mountain and finally rounding the bend to see the most beautiful vista ever – this wonderful house planted on God’s green earth which holds us in its generous embrace.
Postscript: When not pulling a wagon, the conveyance of choice for most Sisters is a kitchen cart, which we call a “sparky.” No one here knows the origin of this mysterious term, not even our eldest Sisters. I once asked Sr. Mary Wilfred about it. She first come to Sacred Heart in the 1920’s as a very young boarding student and always knew everything about the background of such matters. Now deceased by several years, she was in her late 90’s at the time I asked her. But she didn’t know about this. “Well, it’s just always been a sparky,” was her matter-of-fact reply. It’s as if long ago the community took in a motherless word and gave it an orphan home in their kitchen. And years later, it still has a home.