Monday, February 14, 2011

Saint Scholastica

                I have always been fascinated by twins.  For the first nine years of my life, I grew up as an only child.  I hated it.  If I had a twin I would have always had someone to play with.  As it was, I had my dolls.  When I played make believe, I always had a twin brother.  In fact, I convinced my little sister I was adopted and had a twin brother and an older brother somewhere out there in the world.  I was also fascinated about how twins, split up at birth, led very similar lives.  Needless to say in the novel I wrote, my main character has a twin brother.  Also when I read about Saint Scholastica being a twin, I had to look a little deeper.
                The twins were born in Nurcia, Italy in about 480.  Both children were devoted to Jesus.  Benedict, Scholastica’s twin, founded the religious order of Benedictines.  He helped her found a convent that was only five miles from his monastery.  Scholastica is said to be the first Benedictine nun.  Neither the convent nor the monastery allowed that either could enter their houses to visit.  Thus, they would travel to a nearby house once a year to see one another.
                Brother Benedict, with some of his brothers following him, came upon the small home just a short distance down the road from his monastery.  His sweet sister sat waiting for him.  In her early years, she would run to meet him.  Now the trek to the house left her tired.  She stood to give him a hug motioning to the chair next to hers.
                “I thought we would sit in the sun until it grows to hot.  My weary bones enjoy the light.”  He took her wrinkled hand in his own.  A small strand of gray hair fell out of the habit which she impatiently pushed back into place.
                The afternoon passed in reflection of God’s grace throughout the year.  She talked animatedly about the young girls that had recently joined her group of pious woman.  He talked about the work he and his brothers had done.  Benedict noted that even when the sun became its warmest Scholastica’s hands never seemed to warm.  Neither suggested going back into the house, but they retired when they were called to dinner.  After they finished breaking bread together the sixty-three-year-old nun finally broached a topic near to her heart.
                “Benedict, I thought we could break from tradition tonight and stay here at the house.  I would like to spend more time with you.”  She looked into his eyes reading his answer before he spoke.
                Irritation crossed his face.  Growing up, she had always been free-spirited while he followed the rules.  He thought she had grown out of this by now at their age.  “You know I cannot stay the night.  I expect the brothers to not leave the monastery for the night; I cannot very well break my own rule.”
                She clasped her hands in prayer lowering her head.  Tears fell from her face and sobs raked her body.  Nervously he fidgeted with his napkin.  He hated it when she cried.  The brothers sitting at the table quietly stood and began clearing food.  None of them knew what to do with this woman.
                Scholastica lifted her head with a smile when suddenly a clap of thunder rocked the farmhouse.  He jumped from the table and rushed to the door.  The wind almost tore it from his grasp and a torrent of water hit his face.  Struggling, he finally shut the door.
                “Scholastica, what have you done?”
                “You wouldn’t grant my request, so I asked God to intercede.  He sent the storm.  You didn’t hear me, but God listened.”
                As the hours passed by, Benedict’s brother slept on the floor.  He and his sister sat next to the fire chatting about the future.  Benedict had many plans for continuing God’s work.  Scholastica smiled while listening.  She talked of handing her duties over to one of her sisters and resting.  He scoffed at this and discussed what he thought she do in the coming year.  They departed the next morning to a clear bright day if a little muddy from the night before.  Benedict hurried along to get back to work.
                Three days later as Benedict prepared for the day his heart skipped a beat.  Looking out the window, he saw a pure white dove fly past and ascend into the clouds.  His twin sister said her good-byes as she went to be with their lord and savior.
                Saint Benedict sent his monks to the convent for his sister’s body.  He had her corpse put in the tomb he prepared for himself.  He would rest with Saint Scholastica in death as he knew she would want only he wouldn’t need a storm to persuade him this time.
                I believe I will always be fascinated with the bond of twins.  However, now I know there is a bond stronger still.  If we seek, look, listen, and develop our relationship with God, we will have a bond beyond all understanding.  Yes, the bond I have between my children and husband are amazingly strong, but God is with me twenty-four/seven.  Nothing can compare to that.
                Blessings to you all.

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