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  • “You are not a pretty girl, Georgine,” my mother said, “but you are kind and you love God.” At thirteen, I was on my way to six feet tall. Truth be told, I wanted to marry, have children and run a farm. I thought it would be boring to be a nun, too constraining. But I was sent on mission to Taiwan and got to hear Merton’s last talk, hours before his accident. Afterward, we went to Bangkok. I climbed up on an elephant’s back, feeling the muscled flesh. He heaved himself up and me, too-- we big, ungainly pair.

    This story is dedicated to and based on the life of Benedictine Sister Glenore Riedner, who lived to 105, heard Thomas Merton and did indeed ride an elephant. She was trained as a dietitian and was regional superior at the mission in Taiwan. As a child she hunted muskrats with her brothers near their farm in Bird Island, Minnesota. Photo is not of S. Glenore, but courtesy of the archives of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minnesota.
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