45: Nun the Worse for Wear

45: Nun the Worse for Wear

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less


Nun the Worse for Wear

Objects really do acquire a life of their own, when they’ve been held and loved for years.

~Vito Giallo

I was dusting the furniture in the living room and I realized we never used this room anymore. I had long bemoaned not having enough space for our dining room table and here was an entire area adjacent to the kitchen that would be perfect! It was filled with living room furniture that was as good as new because we never sat in there. Surely, someone else could put this beautifully upholstered, three-piece sectional with two cherry tables to good use.

My husband, the keeper of all things, would need a solid explanation. I had one. He would need justification. I had that too.

When George came home from work that night, I poured him a cold beer and he sat down to read the newspaper while I put the finishing touches on dinner. When he was sufficiently relaxed, I announced we were ready to eat. We sat down at the table. The stage was set and I was on.

“I’d like to sell our living room furniture,” I announced.

“Which living room?” he asked. “And why?”

“The one upstairs, in the next room. We never use that furniture anymore. We always gravitate to the family room downstairs. I’d like to convert this larger room to a dining area so I can put the leaves in the table when we entertain. We have the breakfast bar in the kitchen for the four of us in the morning.”

He pondered those thoughts and surprised me by saying, “You’re right. What’s your plan?”

I shared my idea of putting an ad in the PennySaver and on craigslist. George was happy to give me free rein, leaving the planning and execution entirely up to me. So I placed the ad.

I didn’t realize how emotionally attached I was to this living room set until the first prospective buyer came to take a look. They talked about reupholstering and taking it apart and weren’t sure they liked the wood. I felt my stomach churn. I wanted to yell, “That’s solid cherry!” and I was outrageously glad when they left, saying they needed to think about it. I also needed time to think because something was telling me to hold off selling this furniture.

Several nights later, I had a vivid dream. Of nuns. They were the nuns in the convent across town who worked at the Catholic elementary school our son attended. In my dream, they urgently needed a new couch. We delivered our furniture to them with our pickup truck and a few strong men placed it in their living room. I saw the sisters run their hands over the unblemished upholstery while they marveled at the lovely cherry tables. I remember being happy to know the set was going to a good home.

Over breakfast, I shared my dream with George. He looked at me, smiled, and gently patted my cheek. He said, “It’ll be okay.” I’m sure he thought I would need counseling after letting the furniture go.

As soon as he left for work, I called the convent. I spoke with one of the nuns and asked if I could drop by that afternoon. She said they would have the teapot on and looked forward to seeing me.

When I arrived on the doorstep of the convent and rang the bell, I was greeted by the principal of the school. “Come in, come in, we’ve been waiting for your visit.”

She ushered me into their living room. “Please have a seat,” she said. “But be careful on that old sofa; it has a spring poking through it and can hurt if you sit on the wrong spot.” Sure enough, when I sat down, I felt the offending spring prodding me to move to the right.

The sisters and I talked over tea and I addressed the reason for my visit, the living room suite for which I was trying to find a home. I described the design, size and color and asked if they thought they could use it.

The principal put her hand up to her mouth. “We’ve been praying for a way to replace the old sofa, but I’m afraid we can’t afford to buy anything for the house at this time.”

“I don’t want to sell it to you, I want to give it to you.”

The sisters clapped their hands with unabashed glee as they praised the Lord for an answer to their prayers. It was just like my dream. Now I knew why I wasn’t supposed to sell that furniture!

The deal was done and we set a date for delivery. I reassured the sisters that we would arrange to have the manpower to unload the set, place it in their living room and remove the old sofa.

Later that week, our living room sectional was taken to its new home in the convent. The nuns were immensely delighted and I was relieved. I had explained to them how badly I wanted a good home for our very first furniture on which as newlyweds, we had cuddled while watching TV and later had held our children as we read stories aloud.

As George and I were leaving the convent, the wise and kind sisters called out from the doorway, “You have visiting rights for as long as you need!”

~Nancy Emmick Panko


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