The Priest, His Nun, Me and the Convent

Sometimes you have to travel to another place in order to meet people with whom you are in close proximity to on a regular basis.

In 2005 I did my MBTI step one qualifying course at a convent called Emmaus in Bristol. One of the course leaders was a very extraverted Catholic Mother Superior. This woman had tremendous energy and a wonderful, if slightly wicked, sense of humour. The course had a small statistics element and from time to time I was asked to help explain to the other participants.

We got to stay overnight in the convent but were allowed to go out for a beer so long as we were back by 10pm curfew. I am an early riser and on occasion I would meet a normally dressed young woman or two on their hands and knees scrubbing the floor. They were out of sight during the day. These women were in the process of being “saved”. One of them in particular looked pretty beaten up for her age. I guessed they were saved from the streets. They were perhaps seeing if they had a vocation or not.

The participants on the course were an eclectic bunch, counsellors, therapists, strategists, careers advisers, Project Raleigh staff, team development consultants, a priest, his nun and a physical chemist from London.

The priest and “his” nun had a very close relationship, they worked together. Their interaction was not unlike that of a married couple but without any sex. She was devoted to him and was in the habit of smoothing over any problems he had with the bishop, of which there were a few.

As a part of the course, we all had to have a little name tag with our MBTI type on it. Mine was INFJ as was the Irish Catholic Priest. The nun was ENTP. Both of them were about fifteen years older than me. When the nun saw that I was the same type as the priest I gained for myself a shadow. For the rest of the course, she asked me near endless questions about how an INFJ thinks and is. Her logic was that by talking to me she would better understand her mysterious and enigmatic priest.

One of the exercises on the course was for people of like type to have a conversation. So that evening the priest INFJ, the scientist INFJ me and a high-level business strategist woman INTJ had a conversation in the pub. The conversation took off and went stratospheric encompassing God, the universe etc. It was tremendous fun. We had not noticed that everyone else was just listening to the weirdo space cadets.

Anyway, as it turned out I had been near both the priest and the nun every workday for nearly four years. I had stood waiting here at the Jebb Avenue bus stop. They were at work as the prison priest and his pastoral support at Brixton prison, London SW2.

I had to travel all the way to Emmaus to meet them…