Sister Gwendoline loved desserts. From her first years on this world, she had adored anything sweet that you could share with friends and family. Her favorites were éclairs, any kind, as her grandmother always made them when she visited.
Many years had passed and, instead of baking, she would spend her days in the convent, taking care of the elderly nuns and helping with a day care center the church had established in town, to help single mothers with their children.
Let's not misunderstand the situation: Sister Gwendoline loved to help and it was this calling that made her take the habit when she was eighteen. Her mother encouraged her to do i and her father would have preferred to see her become a great cook. But when her grandmother died, she new she wanted the world to be a better place and becoming a nun was her choice to do so.
She had asked Sister Eloise to talk to the Mother Superior, in order for her to have duties in the kitchen but she wouldn't listen or care. She thought Sister Gwendoline was suited for her current duties and sending her to the kitchen would not be in the best interest of the congregation.
But, as they say, God works in mysterious ways. Mother Superior had been called to a reunion in Italy and decided to leave Sister Mary in charge. Sister Mary was just past seventy years old. She was a bit deaf and forgetful. But dedicated 100% to our Lord. She was always first in mass and last to leave.
Sister Gwendoline had also noticed Sister Mary was also first in the dining hall and last to leave, after repeating dessert, something only the most elderly members of the convent could do. So the younger woman took advantage of the situation and directly asked Sister Mary to have duties in the kitchen.
But Sister Mary knew about Gwendoline's requests and said no, like Mother Superior. But knowing about her predilection for sweets, Sister Gwendoline asked for a trial period or a test to be in the kitchen. She said she would bake éclairs for every single nun in the convent as a proof she was suited for the duties she was looking for.
And Mary, number one fan of pastries, accepted. Sister Gwendoline was thrilled and immediately when to the kitchen and asked for a time in which she could do her creation: only after dinner, said Sister Ruby. She was a big, older woman, happy in her duties as a chef and taking care of everyone's health. To her, she was even more important than a doctor as she relieved not only the body but also the soul of her patients.
Sister Gwendoline cooked the pastries the same night she asked Sister Ruby and took special attention to detail. Everything was there, in that big and old kitchen that had seen so many groups of religious women come and go.
She did one for every single sister, using three different types of filling (pistachio, rum and vanilla) and decorating with edible pearls, nuts, fruit and chocolates. When they were done, they looked as if one had entered a french shop. They look perfect, maybe too perfect to even eat.
On breakfast, the morning after, she stood besides Sister Ruby as she served oatmeal and gave aways juices and fruit. She put an éclair on every tray and she told every nun to eat it last, so everyone could taste it at the same time. It wasn't very common to have dessert this early but no one said a word.
They ate the oatmeal plates faster than usual, even the elderly nuns. Sister Clara, who was over ninety years old, kept watching her éclair with the same eyes a mother sees a baby. She thought it was adorable and that she should thank Mother Superior for this delicacy.
Then the moment came and everyone ate in silence. Sisters Ruby, Gwendoline, Clara, Eloise, Mary and everyone else enjoyed it in silence, as if this was another one of the masses. When they finished, they cleared the tables and went on to their duties, without any word been spoken.
Sister Gwendoline was summoned to Sister Mary's office two hours later. She was nervous but overall happy. She had done what she liked best and that was a great accomplishment.
In the office, Sister Ruby sat in front on a large desk, on the other side Sister Mary smiling. They had agreed that Gwendoline should spend two hours each day in the kitchen, getting familiar with every single aspect of cooking. She would keep her duties with the children and the elderly until they had seen she could handle kitchen work.
All the rest of that day, of the week actually, Sister Gwendoline walked on air. She was thrilled to serve her congregation with her real talents. She was on the kitchen on time everyday and, although tired at night, she would fulfill her other duties as she had always done.
Then, Mother Superior came back. Sister Mary told Gwendoline she would speak about their arrangement with her but apparently that wasn't necessary.
Unknown to anyone, Sister Clara had taken Sister Romilda's éclair, as she had an upset stomach. Instead of eating it, the elderly nun had kept it in a cloth napkin for the last few days in order to give it to Mother Superior, as a thank you, thinking she had been the one to authorize dessert on breakfast.
Gwendoline thought she would be summoned to Mother Superior's quarters but that didn't happen. Instead, she summoned all nuns to the chapel and there she talked about what the congregation had gathered to talk about in Italy: tolerance and understanding.
She said these teaching didn't only apply to their relationship with people outside the convent but also inside, and that an example of this not being handled correctly was her denial to let Sister Gwendoline cook, as it was her desire.
Mother Superior said understanding was basic in their way of life and that they should respect each other's tastes and preferences, as the Lord intended them to be individual beautiful creatures.
So from that day on, Gwendoline moved full time to the kitchen and the sisters enjoyed her creations for many years, as she had always wanted to do.