Nuns can’t beat back the might
of Lac St. Jean, changing times

It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious or religious, because the scene playing out here on the shore behind the Lac St. Jean Motel might just scare the bejeesus out of any other 65-year-year after a lifetime of cigarettes, beer and all the other things on the list that doctors hate.

As Gord Lovelace looks out over Lac St. Jean three nuns gesticulate out towards the large body over water.

Father Lovelace tries to attract his flock with communal beer and cigarette host.

The mighty lake itself, a 30-mile-across inland sea that happily creates its own climate, turned black after a spectacular sunrise and the aura of raw power emerging from its depths attracted some spectres seeking to calm the storm. Or maybe something else.

Yup, you know there is going to be a tear in the space/time fabric when Lovelace ends up in a motel with a great gaggle of nuns.

The saintly sisters have been prowling the grounds like some many Grim Reapers ever since I got up for my first coffee and smoke, desperately repeating the sign of the cross in some attempt to bring peace back to the planet or at least this isolated kingdom that has enjoyed the 21 wonderful years since my last visit.

It’s kinda hard to tell exactly how many there are of these brides of God, because they are all dressed the same, black habits covering them so securely from head to toe that they make burkas look like bikinis. There were at least a half-dozen out last evening, one for each of the beers I demolished on my own spiritual quest for enlightenment on the smokers’ retreat on the patio outside our room. Or maybe it was just one and the progression of brews created a familiar mystical double-vision.

The women in black obviously failed in their immediate mission because the lake has followed its own scripture to spawn another thunderstorm for the ages, sending them packing back to the little cottages on the motel grounds and an appropriate distance from us pagan sinners.

The timing of our road trip back to my birthplace in the Saguenay corresponds with the waning days of the provincial election campaign and a distracting issue has been calls from some quarters for an even-increased secularization of Quebec to remove the trappings of religion from public life and view.

This campaign is an ill-concealed drive against invading Muslim hijabs, Sihk kirpans and Jewish yarmulkes more than the final submerging of the mother church that dominated Quebec for 400 years, but our little homegrown nuns may someday find themselves victimized by the same tide.

Perhaps they will eventually face the same treatment as us smokers, the furtive moral cripples left over from another great force that once ruled the land.

I can visualize the signs hanging on the doors of their little cottages when they try to return for another retreat down the road:
“These units are strictly non-believing. Any evidence of praying visible after check-out will be subject to an additional $50 cleaning bill to exorcise the second-hand aura of faith. If you find a Bible in a bedside drawer, take it back outside where it is supposed to be used to anchor down the ashtray during heavy winds.”

Maybe those signs already exist. It would explain why we puffers and those sisters find ourselves thrown together wandering around on the fringes, braving the storms.

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of Lac St. Jean, changing times