It didn’t take long to be totally impressed by my black robed teachers in that Catholic classroom. Despite their unusual dress, and long, beaded rosaries hanging by their sides, I was drawn to their way of life. I saw them as female creatures wrapped in God, an energized flock of women going from one desk to another, old and young voices lovingly sounding in my ears. I never before paid such close attention to my teachers, but here were such mystifying women scurrying up and down classroom aisles, showing only their faces. They didn’t have a clue how their flowing robes brushing gently by me could lift me to such never-felt heights each time. When she leaned over to correct my spelling, Sister Rosetta easily caught my heart. It was hard to breathe.
Outside, when the rain fell, soft drops onto the classroom window, I remember this Sister stopped teaching and quieted the class. She allowed us to listen to the falling rain. In that moment, a deep silence fell as all our singular movements shut down. Water was dropping from clouds onto our rooftops and windowpanes as quiet rain only can. It might have been that wonderful raindrop moment that completely swept me into wanting their way of life. Could it have been so? I recall walking home singing that familiar Rogers and Hammerstein song: Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.
I can’t explain why nuns had such a deep soulful impact on me. All I know is that after school I’d sneak into the back of their monastery-like wooden chapel feeling delivered to a heavenly place. I’d kneel and watch their bowed heads, listen to their singing in a language I couldn’t grasp. The nun who played the tiny organ near me sounded the introduction, and they, as I now know, voiced the ancient up-and-down melodies of Gregorian chant, undulating lines that filled the chapel and my heart
Those nuns came to roost in my memory again on a never-forgotten Sunday afternoon. Sitting alone at the dining room table, doing my senior class homework, rain softly pelting the window. When I searched the panes, Sister Rosita’s direction to stop and praise the gifted rain floated back.
Suddenly, from our living room’s large cabinet radio, I heard a deep male voice break the rain’s song, an everlasting quote from the famous Prayer of St. Francis. The male voice delivered me even closer to Sister Rosetta’s direction, to lay down my pen forever and simply allow all possibilities. I felt the force of St. Francis’ poetic words. Sister Rosita would call this moment, ‘mystical’ I was sure. “You are a blank page, Adele, and God is writing you.” My heart listened with the strength living in me. I was afraid to look up, or around. Something or someone had entered the dining room as St. Francis’s words drew me into its truths: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring your love, where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith...
In that moment, I felt cradled, embraced, as if something deep was flowing in me like a soft streamed river. In that split second, somehow as crazy as it might be to some, I knew that someday I’d surrender, dress in heavy black serge like my St. James mentors, and like them, teach others about God.
Andrew takes a seat near a window. One starved cat runs across the lawn from an incessantly barking dog. You’re here, Andrew, for a maximum of ninety days while you look for employment. If that doesn’t work, you’re on your own. The manager’s meaning suggests I’ll be pounding Orlando’s streets in true Bumstead. Well, okay, but first I’m gonna treat myself to my dream ever since lockup. I’m heading out—there’s an ocean waiting!
I hitch a ride. A baldheaded black man sits behind the wheel. He needs a listener. I put up with the droning, capable after all I took away from those blabbing inmates, just another weird encounter. Okay, but now I can begin to handle the unexpected. Finally, his mouth shuts as he lets me off. I put my feet to work the rest of the way.
Florida’s ocean waves me a true homecoming. Blue horizon stretches above roaring surf. I can hardly breathe—winds, waves, seagulls—capture me totally. I’m home! One bird flies right over my head. I raise my hand to salute. “Hello, flying cousin.” Everything I’d ever believed in resides right here, owned by no one. Nature has been waiting for me. I drop to my knees. The ocean’s pounding rhythms escort me back to story time with my two kids at the beach. “Daddy! Daddy, read this one!” And so, I read their favorite, Winnie-the-Pooh.
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About the Book
The Nun And The Bum portrays an unlikely love story of Aneesa Haddad and Andrew LeBouef. She is born of Syrian parents, spends sixteen happy years as a teaching nun, falls in love with her pastor, leaves convent, leaves him, embarks on a peace-making journey of Arabs and Jews. All’s well except for missing soul mate. One day there he is disguised by his own strike-out.
About the Author
Adele Azar-Rucquoi obtained her B.A. from Manhattanville College in New York and her Masters in Religious Education from Barry University in Miami, Florida. Raised in a Syrian-American family, Adele entered the Sisters of St. Joseph and worked as a teaching nun
for sixteen years. Afterward she directed the Central Florida Chapter
of the International Thomas Merton Society. With poet-husband, Jim, Adele taught courses in creativity at Florida’s Rollins College. Her articles have appeared in Spirituality and Health, Orlando Life, America magazines. Adele is an active member of the Mt Dora Writers Guild. The Nun and The Bum is Adele’s first foray into fiction.
Jim Rucquoi was born in Brussels and raised in New York. He holds degrees from Georgetown (BS) and Columbia University (MBA), and has been a Naval Air Intelligence officer, Madison Avenue account executive, and professor of marketing and advertising at City University of New York. Later, after leaving professional work, he devoted his life to performance poetry. He now spends time creating videos and photography for mother earth and friends to include his blog:www.shemovesme.com