Sister Bernadette was a young nun at 16, but she had been raised by the nuns in the orphanage; they were all she knew. She made her vows of chastity and poverty on her 16 birthday, the most perfect present she thought. In her mind, she was married to God. The convent that she lived in was exactly two miles from the nearest town. As a little girl, she always thought how magnificent all the nuns looked while walking through the countryside into the village. and Now, she was one of them.
One day a truck drove up to the convent gate, beeped its horn twice, and sat idling. Mother Superior walked out the front door to the gate and spoke to the man through the bars. After a brief conversation, she unlocked the gate with the keys from her pockets and slowly walked the gate open. The truck drove up to the barn entrance, and the driver climbed out of the cab. He walked to the back of his box truck, unlatched door and it slowly rolled up exposing what looked to be…bicycles. There were ten in total, some old, some new, but ten in total, one for each of the sisters Bernadette thought. The man had unloaded all the bikes and stood them like pretty maids all in a row. They were a gift from an anonymous donor. People have given the small convent many things over the years. All eyes turned to Sister Superior. The women were sure that she would have them donated to the orphanage down the road where most of the women worked. She stood with her hand on her chin for a good while and finally said, “I would very much like the shiny red one.” All eyes went from the Sister to the shiny red bicycle. One of the older sisters walked over to the shiny red bike, popped up the kickstand and walked the bike over to Sister Superior. Sister Superior took hold of the handlebars and lifted he leg over the bike petals and sat on the seat. They all started laughing. One by one in order of rank each chose a bike. Bernadette was last and was left with the little blue bicycle with a squarish seat. It was so beautiful.
Over the next couple to weeks, the nuns practiced their bike riding skills. The biggest and most important problem to be solved was how to keep their habits from getting caught in the bicycle chain. Large safety pins were the answer to each nun’s new found freedom. You can only walk so far for so long, but a bicycle made it seem as if you could go forever. Over the months, the nuns had bike outings and visited places Bernadette had never been.
One morning, on the way back from town where she had been sent to pick up two loaves of fresh bread, Bernadette turned off the normal pathway and followed a farmer’s trail used for herding sheep. She had always wondered what was down that way when they would walk back from town. It was a beautiful countryside untouched by man with one worn trail from hooves in the center. She peddled to the end of a visible trail, but did not stop, continuing to peddle through the open countryside.
As she peddled through the beauty she became consumed in the strangest feeling, it was lifting and tingling. Her breathing quickened, and she stopped the bike. She stood there breathing quickly taking in all of God’s beauty. She was relaxed and had peacefulness about her. In her mind, she had been consumed by God beauty. She peddled her blue bicycle back to the convent.
She delivered the loaves of bread to the kitchen. Everyone she met made an inquiry as to the state of her health. She just smiled and nodded she was fine. She spoke not a word of her experience, because she felt if she were to speak about it, words would take away from the beauty of her experience. She made her way through the convent to her small room at the end of the hallway and closed the door. She lay on top of her cot in the corner of the room and stared at the little spots of setting sun light dancing on her ceiling. She slowly closed her eyes and fell into such a deep quieting sleep filled with bicycle dreams.
24” x 7” x 10”
Terra cotta, wood, bike seat, and clothe