14 years ago, once I'd finished university (WOW, that makes me feel really old!), I worked as a lay assistant for a year at St Aldates Church in Oxford, England. They used to have just a couple of lay assistants each year but when we started, for the first time they took on 8 of us and since then it has always been a bigger 'team'. Nowadays they are referred to as Interns and the programme is a lot more refined, although I've no doubt it's just as beneficial for the individuals involved.
With such a big team, the accommodation provided required some of us to share bedrooms ... something I've never had to do in my whole life (apart from now I'm married!). It was the one part of my year that I was dreading the most and yet I made such a great lifelong friend in Jo, that I wouldn't have traded the experience for the world! It was often a stressful time but we had a lot of fun ... laughing and crying together depending on the situation. In the years that followed we visited each other all over the world and believe me we've both lived all over the place. In fact we've only lived in the same country for one year since we left Oxford in 1999.
Our room was at the top of a four story town house and we often referred to ourselves as the 'nun's in the turret'! On one particular occasion I can remember us jumping up and down chanting 'we hate boys' ... yes, very grown up of us! We are now both happily married (being bridesmaids for each other) with children but that day 'boy's weren't our main priority!
In the years that followed and as a result of our little nickname for each other, it wasn't unusual for both of us to write cards to the other with photo's or cartoon's of nun's on them. For one of the first Christmases I was married to Mark, he gave me two racing nuns as a stocking stuffer ... in honour of my friendship with Jo!
Years later, I still have my racing nuns. They even followed us across the pond when we moved to the States. Yesterday, I was watching two more little munchkins for a friend. Four children aged 3 and under, could have been hard work but they all behaved like a dream. It made me chuckle that for a good proportion of the time, the five of us were laying on the kitchen floor cheering on these racing nuns. It seems that they were a big hit ... forget the standard kids toys, they just didn't compare. While the kids were all giggling away yesterday, I was remembering my year with Jo and all the giggling (& chanting) we used to do in our little turret all those years ago!