In Silence

I checked into the nunnery for 48 hours but it seemed like much longer. I walked there from my house, towing my wheely suitcase. My mother and children walked me there. I didn’t bring any books. I got a sticker to stick on myself that said “In Silence” and a room with a comfortingly ugly bedspread. It was November so it was raining. Didn’t matter since I hardly went outside.

They said that everyone sleeps a lot. Well, I wasn’t feeling tired when I got there, but somehow, I did sleep a lot. Twelve hours the first night, then a two-hour nap the next day and twelve hours the second night. “You don’t realize that you are chronically tired,” one of the retreat people said.

I went to one-on-one spiritual direction twice but I didn’t know what to say. Somehow I ended up crying both times anyway. I realized how profoundly happy I was, and also that I needed to be nicer to my mom.

They seemed to have abandoned the idea of simple and spare food that the nunnery had practised in the past. We had roast beef and Yorkshires and mashed potatoes and gravy and peas and cake for dessert. It was nice. Taking away books and talking and food all at the same time would have been too much for me, I think.

I missed my kids immensely. I’ve been away from them for longer periods and not missed them all that much. But with nothing else to do, I thought about them most of the time. I decided that they are perfection.

I made a picture with pastels, covered a whole page in colour, then sprayed it with a fixative spray that makes the surface shiny and prevents the pastel from smearing.

On Sunday afternoon, I walked back home again and showed the picture to my daughter. “I know it’s ugly. But I never get to make anything.” She tacked it up on her bulletin board and declared it beautiful.

Rebeca Dunn-Krahn

Rebeca Dunn-Krahn lives in Victoria, Canada, with her husband, two children, six chickens and a cat. Every weekday, she composes angsty haiku in her head as she cycles to her office, where she works as a software developer. Previous publications include a chapter rewrite in a book on programming LEGO robots and a dental-fear confessional on Rebeca is currently writing a novel based on her experiences as a Canadian child living in central California in the late eighties.


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