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Tuesday November 7th 2017Tim Candler9

 

     The founder of Saint Barbara's branch of the Carmelite calling didn't learn to read or write until she was well into her seventies. And more likely Bronwyn's first vision of Saint Teresa was an insight unadulterated by anything like Sunday School, or Saturday School, or any kind of sacred text, or word from an Imam, or cowled priest, or sandal wearing country music singer with cross around his scrawny neck. In her uncomfortably honest book "My Life as Pioneer" she describes her defining vision as being that of a young, impressionable, cloistered seamstress, and the sad fact is that when eventually she did learn how to read she found it necessary to first exorcise then burn her copy of Admiral Flynn's "Lives of the Medieval Saints." Which she recalls "was a beautifully written and illustrated work of smut." And she goes on a bit about God moving in very mysterious ways, and that while Admiral Flynn was a horrible person he was mostly accurate in his description of Saint Teresa who as a young gal did indeed run away from home to fight what she thought was a crusade, turned out to be an attempt to discourage Hapsburg ambitions in Spain. And Bronwyn goes on to explain why even though Admiral Flynn might have been yet another casualty of the Lutheran Reformation, he'd definitely missed out on any chance at purgatory and was sent directly to the lowest regions of hell, where in one of her dreams she'd seen him being eternally boiled by stick wielding lobsters. Some recent, possibly flippant, analysts of Bronwyn the Seamstress' defining vision have suggested she was moved entirely by a singular idea of style that would have made fashion houses of the world utterly redundant.

 

Past

     It's also the case that had it not been for a devotee of Diana, Saint Barbara's branch of the Carmelite calling might never have broken ground and they could easily have succumbed to the vicissitudes of an environment and climate Saeed's royal seamstresses had never been properly prepared for. The first structure was built from hand crafted, gathered materials, which included bits and pieces, a couple of big pillows, camp beds, sheets, blankets, some very nice carpets, and tenting materials from Saeed bin Saeed's camp site. "We did pine a little for our warm, sweetly scented homeland," Bronwyn admits. "But we had youth, enthusiasm, God and the sturdy Alejandra's poorly cured and lice infest assortment of animal pelts on our side." These days the visitor to Saint Barbara can peer through the locked gates that prevent the idle from wandering aimlessly from the railway station of Teresa's Halt into the private convent grounds, and if they stand on tip toes, crane their necks they are able to see the remains of a rough hewn stone chimney which through the course of that first miserable winter was built with local advice by Bronwyn and her sisters. "At last we were able to gather kindling," Bronwyn recalls after digressing a little on flues and chimney drafts. "We lit our fire, warmed ourselves, thanked our god, ate a hot stew of unidentifiable animal parts and carrots and suddenly the sun returned to our new world, temperatures soared, humidity returned and I was attacked by a crowd of our saviors blood sucking insects. This I realized was heaven on earth and we Carmelite sisters sang the only Christian song Alejandra could remember. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pale of water, Jack fell down and broke his crown, and all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't but Jack together again."

 

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