How confession soothed the soul! How good it was to be forgiven! Sister Dana felt much better. An hour with Sister Zoe had helped to clarify a host of issues—"Marcy" being most notable among them. It had not been a confession in a formal way, of course, but the sense of expiation was the same. The elder nun had listened in that special mode she had, when the pretext was to "have a little chat." Her silences were understanding, and when she spoke her words were truly nonjudgmental, helpful, caring. In this regard the chats were more restorative than was penance, where the repertoire was limited to prayer.

Then, too, some things had not required explaining. The tears that had trickled down the young nun's cheeks told all. Sister Zoe had sympathized. Love was not a state about which any human being need feel ashamed—even when it awakened sexuality. Bodies loved no less than spirits, hearts no less than minds. Many forms of loving sprang from each. People simply had to choose the forms best suited to their needs. Nuns were people. Their needs fostered choices, too. But nuns were also guided by the canons of their faith, which exacted from them certain sacrifices. It was of these that Sister Zoe at last had spoken. And Sister Dana, eager to atone, adapted what was said to meet the challenge of her current situation.

She had hated Julian, for instance. Even had she Marcy's interests selfishly at heart, what she felt toward Julian was wrong. Which was not to say that he was any less guilty of harboring vile intentions. She was still convinced he did. But her indulging wicked thoughts was not the way to combat his. She saw that now. If Marcy were to be protected, she would have to alter her approach.

But now she was to sit out in the hall during his classes. When Sister had suggested this it came as a relief (all the further from Julian's animosity). In the light of her remodeled resolution, however, she had her doubts—though she certainly was within her rights to peek in occasionally, which might be better. Believing he was not being watched, Julian would be more likely to show his hand.

Yes, it would be better. And she would have the privacy to monitor her own emotions, reflecting on their genesis, weeding out impurities, bolstering her fresh commitments to both Marcy and her Lord—to Melanie, rather. Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, Melanie. She had to stamp the change inside her head. Why was that so hard?

 

"Good afternoon...

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