The day I thought I had killed a nun


In a for­mer life, a sin­gu­lar de­light of p a r i sh work in one of the province’s larger ru­ral ar­eas was the lo­cal min­is­te­rial as­so­ci­a­tion. Clergy of sev­eral de­nom­i­na­tions shared great ca­ma­raderie and reg­u­larly came to­gether for both spir­i­tual and so­cial events. It was re­fresh­ing to me per­son­ally to see the ec­u­meni­cal spirit at work in a lo­cal set­ting, hav­ing grown up in a Protes­tant de­nom­i­na­tion that frowned on in­ter­church re­la­tions.

One week­end event will live in in­famy, at least in my mem­ory. We men and women of the cloth de­cided to go away as a group on a Satur­day.

At a re­treat cen­tre, we did what min­is­ters do when they get to­gether; we prayed to­gether, lis­tened to a de­vo­tional or two to­gether, played games to­gether, per­haps gos­siped a lit­tle to­gether and, of course, ate to­gether. As one wag put it, “ the three f ’s of the gospel … fun, food and fel­low­ship!”

In the af­ter­noon, we de­cided to play a game of base­ball. Grow­ing up, I didn’t play much base­ball. On this day, though, I whole­heart­edly put my­self into the game, de­ter­mined to show I could play as well as the next clergy. It was my mo­ment to shine on the field.

The time came for me to be bat­ter up. I didn’t know all the rules of the game, but I knew that a home­run was some­thing to be greatly de­sired. I would be the dar­ling of my team if I could dis­patch the ball to kingdom come.

To be per­fectly hon­est, my first swing was less than per­fect. In­deed, it was down­right em­bar­rass­ing. All I did was “nick” the ball. “Foul,” the um­pire shouted. “ Uhm,” I thought to my­self. “Gotta do bet­ter than that next time round.”

My sec­ond swing was made in heaven … or not. The ball could not have con­nected bet­ter with the bat. With a re­sound­ing crack, it flew di­rectly down the field. I was in my glee. This one was bound for the record books.

I was about to make my dash to first base, when I heard a muf­fled groan.

I looked around. The ball was not about to pro­vide me with a cov­eted home-run after all, for it had al­ready come to rest on the ground at the foot of the pitcher … one of the two Ro­man Catholic sis­ters who had joined us for the day’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

As I watched in hor­ror, she crum- pled to the ground and lay rigid and mo­tion­less. It was ob­vi­ous the ball had al­ready made its mark … on her head. I didn’t need a Ph.D. in sports to re­al­ize that the base­ball, on which I had pinned my hopes of a home­run, was go­ing nowhere fast.

All the clergy ran to the pros­trate sis­ter, to of­fer their help. When I reached her, I mut­tered to my wife, “Oh my God, I killed a nun!”

“ Sis­ter! Sis­ter,” I heard peo­ple shout­ing. “Are you al­right?” Noth­ing. “ Slap her,” the United Church min­is­ter sug­gested help­fully. No re­sponse. “ Pray for her,” said the Sal­va­tion Arm of­fi­cer. Deathly si­lence. “Get some wa­ter and throw it in her face,” said the Angli­can pri­est. A pall of doom per­vaded the field. A few min­utes later, the in­ert sis­ter barely opened her eyes and looked up grog­gily. She un­steadily got to her feet, with the as­sis­tance of the other play­ers.

“ What hap­pened?” she asked with a dazed look in her eyes.

The Ro­man Catholic pri­est said, “ You were hit in the head by a base­ball.” To his credit and to my re­lief, he didn’t iden­tify who was bat­ter up when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred.

At the same time, I could only imag­ine the news­pa­per head­line the fol­low­ing week had the vic­tim failed to get up off the ground: “ Pen­te­costal pas­tor kills Catholic sis­ter with base­ball.”

I was later told by one of the clergy present that there are other, less dan­ger­ous ways, to show any an­i­mos­ity I may have had to­ward Ro­man Catholics. I’m sure he was jok­ing.

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