Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Oh, the Scrapes We Have Seen!
I should have presented him with a box of chocolates after I wasn't expelled on my first day of school.
At that time, I knew little about Religious Sisters. Only that they wore long black dresses and starched white bonnets. And I knew that when a student misbehaved, Sister would swoop toward the child "with her beads swinging!!!" Or so my mother had warned me, using a tone of apocalyptic doom.
I realized, from Mother's words, that the beads were something worn by Sisters. Now this, to me, was thoroughly exciting. I positively loved beads; I was enchanted by the gleaming white pearl ones Mother put on when she and Daddy went out for the evening. I loved colorful glittery beads worn, usually with matching earrings, by my aunts and cousins. Oh yes, beads were fine things! Fine, fine things! They signaled celebration and beauty and times when a lady wore her finest.
I must say, what Sister wore on the first day of school didn't strike me as her finest. Today must not be particularly special to her, I decided, because she arrived unbeaded. She stood tall and straight beside a cracked slate blackboard, dressed in a stiff white bonnet and a long plain dress of black. Around her neck, I saw not one single bead.
I still have a sharp memory of my disappointment. Not only had I expected beads, I'd anticipated lengthy strands of them (after all, they had to be long enough to "swing"). White, gleaming strings of pearls dancing around Sister's neck as she swooooooped.... which was a rather attractive image all on its own to my six year old mind. I envisioned a large, dark, graceful bird, magically flying forward with its pearly circlet swinging.
But Ah! (I suddenly remembered). Mother had said I must DO something in order to see the beads swing. Ah HA! I suddenly got it. I had the magic! I knew the secret.
I must misbehave!
Sister presented me with the perfect opportunity. It happened when she told us that whatever we did, no matter what, we MUST NOT WRITE ON OUR DESKS.
Ahhh, that was it. My ticket to a vision of swinging, gleaming beauty. I waited until Sister was looking directly at me, I made sure to catch her eye, and I took my big fat long wooden pencil and carved as hard as I could onto the top of my desk.
Here it was: the moment of swooooooping! Like a rushing hawk, Sister flew down the aisle between desks and swept toward me. But oh dear. She had forgotten her pearls.
And then I saw them. A long strand of fat black beads had been concealed in the gathers of Sister's skirt all along, and now they were swinging. Back and forth, with every swish of her dress, they were swinging. I was so focused on the dark, unshiny beads that What Happened Next has always been a blur. It had to do with my being grabbed up from my chair, shaken back and forth a bit (remember that to Sister I must have seemed like the most defiant child in all the universe), and a red-haired classmate looking over at me with thumb in mouth and horror on face. I don't remember what was said; the scene replays in my mind like a silent movie. It's just as well. I didn't know words like defiant and disobedient and disrespectful and wicked yet anyway. It was probably better to learn those later, in some other way.
(I wonder if my guardian angel just read that last sentence and sighed).
Yes, this story of the swinging beads is true. And the gratitude to my guardian angel: that's true as well. Oh, the scrapes we have seen!! Oh, those sad times when he has watched me race headlong into sin. I've gone along my merry, self-appointed, disobedient, defiant path of potential doom so often. And all the while, he has stayed busy wrestling and fighting and trying to lead me in right paths.
This is a long overdue public thank you, guardian angel.
Thank you for battling for my soul.
Painting: Domenichino, Guardian Angel
Posted by Nancy Shuman at 11:40 PM
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Oh my! I did enjoy this story... very much! I think I shall read it again. Perhaps a third time too.
My poor guardian angel worked behind the scenes for over 30 years before I directed even one thought his way. I didn't even know he existed. Sometimes we just don't realise the gifts we have been given. I wonder what else I will discover.
I will never again look at my pyjamas and my beads without thinking of you and your stories!
Thank you, Sue! Is my habit of always re-reading your posts and always re-watching your videos being "caught" by you? You can now think about me sitting in the evenings in my armored pjs, a string of pearls around my neck, savoring the latest antics of the Elvis girls.Delete
What a great story Nancy! I thoroughly enjoyed it! Thank God for Guardian Angels!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Anne. I began this post writing about getting a gold star for learning the guardian angel prayer in first grade, and wound up writing about the beads!Delete
Great story! I don't know how my guardian angel has put up with me!ReplyDelete
I forget about my guardian angel more than I'd care to admit. One of my grade school teachers used to ask us to move over a bit in our desk seats to make room for our angels :) ! Thanks, Monica.Delete
This is the best....!! Nancy, what a hoot...
But more importantly, you've made me realize that I have not thanked MY guardian angel lately! SO many times there are "almosts..." we catch our breath and go on our way! Thanks for the nudge ( even if you didn't mean it!) to take our angels seriously and be more appreciative...
I, too, went to Catholic school...gr 1 through grad school and do I know of which you speak.....!Your story really hit home. I could picture the classroom, desks, kids and your teacher. She reminded me of Sr Patrice, my 3rd gr teacher..back in, let's see...1973? :)
Take care Nancy and have a great day!
Thanks, Chris. I have had some "almosts" too - two were quite significant. Maybe someday those will get a post all their own :). In both cases, it was almost as if "someone" had stopped me .. like I was responding to a sudden vocal command, only there was no voice and there were no words. In one, I was ready to drive forward from a stoplight when it turned green. It was as if I just FELT the word "stop!" I had no time to think about it, I just reacted by sitting there unmoving. And then a car came racing through the red light on their side - not running a yellow, just obviously not even seeing the light (they were coming quite fast), and if I'd been in the intersection it would not have been a pretty scene. I really felt, and still do, that this was a case of angelic intervention.Delete
Great story -- as a lover of beads myself. ;-)ReplyDelete
I must say I was a very obedient child and my angel didn't have to keep me out of much mischief, but you never know what evil would have befallen had your angel not been with you. I think of it when I'm in the car too -- how could we manage to not kill ourselves without them?
Believe it or not (after this story!), I was a pretty obedient child as well. I can recall the beads-incident with 6 year old feelings still intact. It's funny - I can now see it and other things from both an adult's and my own childlike perspective. I didn't even feel afraid or shamed when Sister gently "shook" me. I hadn't realized what I was doing was "wrong" - I didn't think about harming a desk, and it apparently never occurred to me that Sister might think "less" of me (she obviously did not, as first grade was a positive experience). I just wanted to get her to put on her beads!Delete
I love this story, Nancy. I can almost here that child saying: "I just wanted to see the beads swing." :)ReplyDelete
My angel too has been put through the paces over the course of my life. I somehow think that when I breathe my last, he will breathe a sigh of relief while wiping the sweat from his angelic brow.
Thanks for sharing this.
Karin, thank you. I have wondered if the teachers (all Religious in those days) discussed their students back then, and if Sister requested community prayer for this strangely defiant little girl. If so, I was probably saved from a lot more scrapes!Delete
What a great story!!! I hope the rest of that first school year went much smoother. :)ReplyDelete
O indeed it did! I loved school that year, and can remember pleading with my mother to let me go once when I was sick. Thanks, Kerri!Delete
What a great story! I think your angel knew you weren't really being naughty, you just wanted to see the beads swing!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Susan. Probably my love of long wooden rosaries worn on long graceful habits started that very day!Delete
This made me laugh Nancy! You are such a great story teller!!! This was so much fun to read. Thank God for our Guardian Angels and beads...and not writing on desks!!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much! I had fun recalling and writing it, especially since the memory just popped back in as I thought about learning about my angel in first grade.ReplyDelete
I loved the writing in this piece; you have a real gift. I wonder, what makes oyu believe so strongly in guardian angels? I am a revert and it's something I never quite got my head around. I was aware of the feast for guardian angels this year and I wished that I had faith they were there.ReplyDelete
What a kind thing to say - thank you! I believe in angels because they're written of in the Bible (I'm a very Bible-based Catholic :)!). I believe in guardian angels for the same reason (although I can't remember the exact verse(s)), and because I accept the teachings of the Church. The official Catechism would give bases for this. As far as a personal "sense" of angels, or a personal "relationship" with or actual awareness of my guardian, I cannot say I have any real sense of "him." Not like I do of Our Lord Himself, not at all. But still I believe... does that make sense :)? And even though I never left the Catholic Church in a formal way, I am a revert myself, having been for years basically agnostic. My several-faceted "reversion story" is told on my other blog at thecloisteredheart.org (there's a link to that blog on this blog's sidebar). That account is titled "The Call," and can be found on the Cloistered Heart's sidebar under most viewed posts.Delete
There are several things I can't get my head around either in matters of faith. I know it may sound simplistic, but I just hand those over to God and ask Him to show me what I need to know. I am just grateful that I know HIM!
Again, thank you!