Convent life


I will not cease form mental strife,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand…..

Etc. Etc.

Oh, God, again.

I lay on the floor this morning, after a particularly strenuous piece of yogic technology, waiting to catch my breath, and those delightful lines flooded into my head.

I was thinking about hymns yesterday. Our children are at a Steiner School. This means that they get a particular version of life and it’s attendant meanings funnelled into them. Life all children, information is poured in, like little fois gras, most get a version of the same thing at the young age, but ours will escape hymns I think. I hope.
I occasionally break into the odd one and they sit looking at me wondering how I know such dirges. As my husband is French he lacks this educational imprint, too, so hymn singing is a lonely past time.

But as usual I have slipped away from the main thrust.

It may be blatantly obvious to all; I know it is to some, that I went to a Catholic Boarding School. The Convent of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was awful. The stuff of Gothic Novels. Containing characters as diverse as the Kissing Bandit. He was the priest with a predilection for young girls who he would, yes, dribbling and panting, pick up and kiss. There was the lesbian matron and her cohort; a nun called Sister peter with a chest the size of a battle ship. Then the Head Mistress.

Ahh, Sister peter. No soaring chorus of love here. She was a vicious and vindictive witch who must have been locked out of some kids horror story and found her way into a boarding school to carry on her arts with a salary.

She wore a cowl, a very tight cowl that pulled her face and chin forward. I wobbled when she was angry, so it wobbled a lot. Nestling on her chin was a suppurating wart. When we where whipped into singing Jerusalem, it was her favourite hymn, her tears would flow and she picked at her wart nervously until it bled. Serried rows of unhappy children singing and watching this crazed nun picking herself apart. Such fun.

So the first lines of this text are not to be taken lightly. They contain much pain and suffering and it was not hers, trust me. And when I really think what they are saying it is awful. It is as though from a young, and totally lacking in any innocence, age, mental dramas were hammered into us. All of us. “I will not cease from mental strife”?

God, I hate religion….