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Why Is She So Angry?

64. Why Is She So Angry?

There was a time when I took a two-year course in storytelling, taught by Midge Miles. We usually met at a Catholic retreat center on the Hudson River. My first time there I didn’t know what door to use in this huge building, so I parked my car, and went up the steps to what looked like the front of the building. The door was locked so I rang the bell and waited. I was just about to turn around around and try to find another entrance when I saw a nun in a black habit coming my way. She was not smiling.

She opened the door and said crossly, “What do you want?” I stumbled in my speech and started to answer when she interrupted me to ask loudly “Are you here for the storytelling workshop?” I smiled and said, “Yes…yes, I am.” Her crossness didn’t go away and she said, “Well you should have gone around the back and in that door!!!” I turned as I said “O.K.” but she kept talking and said, “Well don’t do it now. You’re here now so come in.”

I took a deep breath and came in with my small overnight bag. Her frown deepened as she shouted at me, “NOW—go down this hall. At the end, turn to the left, and take the elevator downstairs!” I moved quickly away from her and started down the hall. She disappeared from the direction she came.

I followed her directions and found Midge. I told her about my experience in storytelling detail and then asked, “Why, Midge, why does she have to be so angry?” Midge looked at me a minute, then touched the inside of her wrist with the fingers of her other hand as she said, “She has wounds.”

I took a breath. It didn’t excuse the anger and the crossness, but it helped me take that breath and consider the nun who in that time could not be gentle. I have thought of the story often and when I come upon someone or some situation where I am asking “Why—does this person have to be this way?” I think of my experience. I touch the inside of my wrist and wonder if the person has wounds.

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