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The book is a showcase for some of the most beautifully written prose I've run across in a long while. It is as unfurnished as a novel as the convent it represents---each word carefully chosen, each image simply, but elegantly, constructed. I chose to reread many snippets, just to soak them in another time. I wanted to make some remarks here about the book, not for its content or style or ideas, but because of the parallels it offers for teachers and schools.
All remarks about vows of poverty aside, there is something about the structured and ordered life of the convent that I see reflected in the schools. The bells that signal the events of the day. The times to gather. Opportunities for thought, work, and play. The influx of new energy is disconcerting to the old guard. The parents with uncertainties about their children entering the cloistered atmosphere---and how a town and social order hold a certain reverence about the institution, with expectations that those inside will be role models. Indoctrination will occur and questions will be raised.
Maybe it is part of being human to have these constructs---to order our time and develop ways to create meaning...some order from the chaos. We pattern our days and hours along the same lines as other organized bodies. We use stories to connect our own experience with that of others. We may not all find ecstasy in this, but perhaps we find some comfort in the parallels.