Here at the Beguinage the sisters have what are affectionately called ‘personnel’, five people who work at the monastery and who are NOT sisters. Personnel do jobs caring for and tending the Beguinnage which traditionally were done by sisters in years gone by when the sisters were both younger and more numerous.These ‘personnel’ can be seen at any time of day Monday thru Friday busily, caringly and quietly going about their assigned tasks. A spirit of helpfulness and kindness surrounds them, from the gal who does the sisters’ ironing until all is beautiful and wrinkle free (she willingly does my habits and the sheets! ) to the faithful laundress who does our lakens/sheets every month, folds our weekly laundry and lays it out appealingly on the table in the sewing room for our retrieval. Others mop the tile floors until they gleam especially after rainy days, which are many in Brugge. We sisters diligently wipe our feet but we do track dirt along the the floors coming and going from our seven services a day out into the courtyard and across the often muddy path to the church.
Kitchen personnel help cook and do all our dishes at midday meal and breakfast during the week. A handyman and gardener complete the ‘personnel’; they rake and clean up the large monastery grounds Spring and Fall and literally and figuratively fill in all the cracks. The handyman recently bore small holes in my lace lamp to my great delight allowing my lace lamp to be attached solidly to my pillow and not fall on the floor when I am being Italian and waving my arms about telling stories of my Italian and Dutch adventures. Once or twice a year at Christmas and Easter, the ‘personnel’ buy, prepare (the handyman is an amateur cook!) serve and clean up a special meal for us sisters.
Personnel seem to be everywhere and nowhere quiet, efficient and blessing us. Older sisters, at one time did all these jobs themselves with no need of personnel…BUT now since they/we are in need, ‘personnel’ are here and we are very blessed by their presence and their attitude of service. May the good Lord bless them in return.