As we continue to prepare for the entrance of our aspirant Sarah, we realize that in addition to needing a cell to sleep in, she also needs a bed to sleep on. Since our last arrival is now using our last available mattress, this necessitated the making of a new one. Only sick or infirm Poor Clares sleep on a regular mattress bought in a store, and we are confident that Sarah fits neither of those categories. When I first entered over 30 years ago, the standard Poor Clare bed was a “straw sack”. However, over the years it has proved nearly impossible to obtain suitable straw for the making of a mattress, for the machines now used to bale straw also pulverize it. Then too, the hot and humid weather we have here in Virginia is very conducive to mold and mildew which loves to proliferate in our straw beds and afflict the sleepers thereon with severe allergies. Finally, about fifteen years ago, one bed began to crawl with vermin. This was literally, the last straw! At the time this happened, we were doing some renovation work on our old monastery and an ingenious Sister noticed the hard Styrofoam panels the men were using for insulation. This Sister, following her vocation as a Franciscan mendicant, begged for some of the panels. She then made a padding of old, worn out blankets and soft foam rubber, wrapping them, along with the Styrofoam in mattress ticking to form a modern day substitute for the medieval straw sack. It has served us well, being much lighter and yet firmer than its predecessor.
Yesterday, we completed Sarah’s genuine Poor Clare bed. Pictured here are the completed mattress with the left over blanket trimmings on display along with the tools of the mattress making trade.
Next is the bed frame, what we call the “bucks and boards” on which the mattress will be laid.
“The Heart of Jesus is my resting place; it is there I wish to live and to die.” Thus begins the prayer each of us says before we retire at night. Our physical sleeping accommodations are simple enough. But who needs more when the Heart of Jesus is our deepest repose?