Word Count 489
Chapter 8 – The Call
By Sharon Collins
Geneviève was not the only sleepless soul this first night of cloistered freedom. Mother Superieure also stared into an empty sky, the weary moon having hidden her face behind the gathering clouds. Her mind filled with a dissonance that even the harmony of prayer would not dissipate, she had elected to absent herself from Matins. The Prioress would lead the sisters in their dark of the night devotions. A foolish practice, she thought, Yeshua would laugh at such ceremonies. The Lord did not listen any better during the dark than during the day. Tonight especially, she required peace, needing time to consider the enormity of Jean’s arrival and request. She did not welcome the distracting shuffle of two dozen sleepy sisters heading to chapel to pray although the tolling of the chapel bell did soothe somewhat.
Despite, a lifetime of preparing, she had fiercely hoped to pass into her next life without having to heed The Call. This fervent hope had evaporated today, washed away like the dust and grime coating Jean’s five doves, falling away like their beautiful curls, swept up and tossed into a midden of despair. Clutching her simple cross of sacred Laurel wood to her lips, Mother gave into the flood of grief, today’s unwanted eventuality had summoned.
‘Oh Isobel, my dear sister, how I will miss knowing your wise spirt walks the same earth as mine. Distance and duty have separated us for nearly a lifetime, and now our chance to walk under the same sun and dance as we did as girls is gone. Jean’s dreadful news has cleft my heart in twain. I pray you received the consolamentum before your ordeal. Oh dearest sister, may your soul shine in light perpetual; I will miss you beyond measure and promise to care for your granddaughter as I have cared for mine.
Personal tragedy put aside, Mother Superior, Magadalena , sister of the very same Isobel, Geneviève called Grand-mere, rose from her bed and lighted a tallow candle to guide to the darkened cloister garden. The walls of her room and the weight of her duty pressed in. Walls, were walls no matter if physical or spiritual, they kept a soul confined. At least in the garden, under the willow, she could breathe freely as she reviewed the safe-guards put into place the year Geneviève was born. The birth of Bloodline children, especially girls, was duly monitored by both Cathar and Roman authority, one with joy and hope, the other with fear and hate. Therefore, the births of three Montsegur doves and the waif known as Virginie, had been carefully kept secret. Destined for greatness since their first breaths, the four had grown under the watchful eyes of Isobel and Magdalena . Giselle and Lisette, also bloodline, too had been secreted away as the Pope’s army burned its way across France. Their hiding places had been equally effective, one a guest of Les Gardiens of the Carmargue and the other, of the wandering Gitane.