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
 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

 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.