Nuns

Saturday I went to Santiago de Compostela, it’s a city in Galicia and the Cathedral there is destination to many pilgrims. As legend has it, Saint James (Santiago) brought Christianity to Spain and he is allegedly buried in the Cathedral. The Way of Saint James, is a very popular pilgrimage for many people, Christians and non-believers alike.

I went to the city with Sally y los Intocables (I’ve mentioned my group before) and we visited the Cathedral and walked around the old streets enjoying the beauty of the town. Because of the heavily religious nature of the city, there are many convents and monasteries. One of the members of Sally y los Intocables has a sister who is a cloistered nun and we went to visit her. For those of you who don’t know, a nun is a woman who has devoted her life to religion, however; cloistered nuns have very strict rules about the way their life is lived and a separation from the external world so as to not distract them from their life of prayer and devotion. Many of these nuns do a lot of work around the convent, for example, cooking and cleaning, they sew or repair clothing, they bake sweets to sell to the public through an enclosed lazy susan, etc. Ana had an appointment to see her sister and since we are her friends, we were allowed to go with her. We went in the visiting room and her sister was waiting, behind bars. In order to kiss us, she had to get up on the table (on her knees) that was on her side of the bars and we had to present our cheeks so she could kiss them, one cheek at a time. (In Spain the common greeting of friends and loved ones is dos besos, 2 kisses, one on each cheek.) We were in the visiting room for two hours, we had coffee and cookies that were made by the nuns, and talked and talked and talked. One of the nuns was from India, from the same city as the author of a book I had bought the previous night by chance. I showed her the book and her face lit up, she read the inner leaflet about the author and began reading the book. I told her to keep it. She said no no but I insisted she could keep it, I didn’t want it. The Mother, or head nun, was also in the room and said “No, you won’t keep it, you’ve read a lot in your life, what do you need to read more for?”
WOW! I felt bad, I wanted her to read the book, but my friends reassured me, this woman had chosen this life for herself and she knew what she was getting into, nobody forced her. I still felt bad. That sucks.

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