What do cloistered nuns do on the 4th? Pretty much what any other American does, slightly nuanced of course by our contemplative life and the "demands" of the Divine Office and the Adoring Rosary. There's a cookout on the cloister (great hamburgers, Sr. Maria Conception!) at the noon meal. The morning is free for talking, games or whatever the sisters choose but the afternoon is silent like ordinary days The sisters are, however, free from their usual work. The evening meal might be eaten in the community room with talking or perhaps in the refectory with music. It all depends on what the prioress chooses.
We closed evening recreation with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and one sister humorously finished with, "Play ball!" It should have been, "Sing Compline!"
After Compline comes the hightlight of the day! Sisters rush up to the dormitory to take showers and prepare for the evening as fast as they can because at about 9:15 the loud BOOMS of the town fireworks begins. This is the signal to head for either the cloister porch or for the prime viewing spot (complete with bugs!) under the 'ole apple tree in the courtyard. From here we get a front row seat of some of the best fireworks around, thanks to the local pharmaceutical companies that sponsor Summit's 4th of July activities.
OK. so it's not quite the "front row!" And yes, to see the fireworks over the enclosure wall it's best to stand not sit. But we get a great view for nearly a half hour. One of the sisters who made her aspirancy 15 years ago likes to tease that she choose to enter our monastery because there were fireworks not 3 days after she came!
No matter how many years we're here most of us look forward to the evening fireworks show. It's a happy bunch of nuns, grateful to the Lord for these simple gifts, that head off to sleep at 10PM.