For the Nuns of 1523 who Fled to Wittenberg

by January Pearson

For the Nuns of 1523 who Fled to Wittenberg

I'll tell you a story
of such blessed serendipity
it could be myth,
but it is true.

Twelve nuns broke
solemn vows and
escaped a convent.
It could have been nine or thirteen

but twelve, the perfect symbol
for this little church,
this lowly nation. It was Easter Eve, no less,

when the wagon arrived
stocked with dead fish;
the nuns piled in and
one whispered "Jonah,"

causing quiet overflowing
laughter to lift them like water.
They shivered
in their modest habits,

criminals to the state,
to the outsider, peculiar,
speaking rarely a word
as they held hands

and gripped a prayer
and went to a place
where lilies bloom
from the stones.

When they arrived
the Reformer diligently
settled them in homes
and marriages --none was left destitute.

But that night
as they huddled like children
in the dark, in this hideaway,
this sanctuary,

chanting alleluias before the vigilant air,
they didn't know what lay beyond
the cobbled road – they only knew
they left a life, a home, a name,

to become beggars,
so that they might be free
and given to
by Christ alone.

January Pearson teaches college composition courses and is a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights.