In Fine Feather
Last week we had a visitor to the chapel. This in itself was not exceptional. Our chapel is kept open from 6am until 7pm every day, visitors welcome. However, this particular visitor outstayed his welcome.
The trouble began when he first arrived. We might have been able to overlook his eccentric choice of seating, even his constant need to change spots could be tolerated. But he took vocal prayer to a whole new extreme! His prayer could be heard not only in the chapel, but also in the nuns' choir and the professed dormitory. To make matters worse, we began to suspect that he had slipped past Sr. Maureen when she locked up the chapel at 7pm as his vociferous devotions could still be heard.
After Compline Sr. Mary Cecilia and Sr. Maria Teresa tiptoed into the darkened visitors' chapel to see if they could persuade him to leave. He hadn't been heard during Compline, so the sisters hoped he had let himself out. No such luck, they found him asleep...perched on one of the arches no less! Gently rousing him from his slumber, the sisters were about to escort him out when he took a flying leap....and flew to the top of the baldacchino!
That's right, our visitor had wings, of the feathered variety; and he was no angel.
Incensed at having been woken, or perhaps just enjoying the acoustics above the baldacchino, the juvenile Robin took up his extraordinarily loud devotions. The sisters 'threw in the towel' as neither had yet become accomplished in levitation; they left the bird to his prayers.
The next morning he joined our non-winged visitors for Lauds, raising his voice as no Catholic ever has before. At Mass he resumed his antics, flying from window to arch to baldacchino, until finally, during the post-Communion hymn, he hopped from the baldacchino to the grille of the nuns' choir. We keep the grille open for Mass but the Robin preferred to shimmy and twist his way through the top where the grille meets the wall. Perching happily on top of the grille, now in the nuns' choir, he joined along with the hymn before taking a dive at the only sister in our community who happens to have a fear of birds. He settled himself on the open window at the end of Mass but, like a good Catholic, was disinclined to leave before spending some time in Thanksgiving. Although he was unfamiliar with the psalms of Terce, that didn't stop him from joining in....loudly. If only he had had as great a regard for enclosure as he had for the Divine Office!
After Terce removal of our visitor became top priority. Gently pushing him out the window with a long pole didn't even ruffle his feathers. Instead of exiting gracefully he flew up to the very top of our life-size crucifix which hangs high above the Eucharistic throne, perching on top of Christ's head.
A new strategy was needed. This time some of the sisters attempted to provoke him by playing a robin's call in the tribune, hoping he would fly in. The space is on the second floor and connected to the choir by windows that open. It is much smaller, which would have helped with catching him. Provoked he was, but spotting one of the sisters crouched in the tribune, he swung back around and flew wildly....into the overhead ceiling fan...which was on. Thwack! and down he dropped in a shower of feathers.
One sister ran down to the choir, expecting blood and a dead Robin. Much to her relief, he survived his encounter with the fan and the 50' drop to the floor with just a broken wing. Although we were sad that he was injured, we grudgingly admit that it did make capturing him much easier! One toss of an apron and our visitor was caught. A friend of the community drove over to take the little Robin to the Raptor Trust, a bird rehabilitation center, to tend to his wing.
We had video of the Robin singing Terce with us, but unfortunately it got lost somewhere between the camera and the computer! One sister offered to bring another Robin into choir to re-enact the scene, but for some reason that idea didn't fly (forgive the pun!).