Monologues are posted as a recurring feature on Stage Voices.
SOUL HEALING by Bob Shuman
Reverend Elizabeth, a Spiritualist minister, is in her late 30s (but she can be played by a variety of ages); SHE wears a dark blue suit with a clerical collar. After church meetings, Sister Catherine, a Catholic nun greets her.
SCENE: A hotel conference room in southeastern Pennsylvania.
REVEREND ELIZABETH: Sister Catherine? How are you doing? If I had known you were going to be here, I would have taken part in the study group. They're using the old convent reading lists, talking about St. Teresa and Padre Pio. I'm just sorry I’m on my way out. I have an early morning, giving a fundraising speech. What has it been? Eight, nine years, at least.
It gets stuffy in here without the air conditioning. Please take off your coat. I can stay a few minutes. You’ve lost weight, I have to say—sit down—I hope not too much.
Paul usually gives the demonstrations, but he’s in England training: physical phenomena, clairvoyance. Come back one Sunday and you can hear me preach. (Writing a note.) I'm going to give you the name of a healer—I can only imagine what you think of this. You should take it, please let me give it to you. [(SISTER CATHERINE refuses the note concerning the healer.)] I said a voice told me to go in the convent. (REVEREND ELIZABETH takes back the note.) Sending me to volunteer at rehab, it took me a while to realize you were trying to punish me.
I have to finish my speech before it gets too late.
(REVEREND ELIZABETH looks through her papers.) Sister Clare's mother, after she passed away, there was another voice . . . “Won’t you offer my daughter my apologies? Would she forgive me?” She woke me up in the middle of the night. Broke into my meditations and prayers. I lit votives and went twice a day to Mass, “Tell my daughter I ask for her love . . ."
(Practicing her speech.) "It's easier to pick up a brick and put it in the ground than it is to stop abuse. (Making notes.) It's easier to have the miraculous communicated in the pages of a book than through a medium such as myself. We're building this church together because it's easier to put a brick down than it is to live one more second in hating
The night manager is signaling to me, he wants to lock up.
I'm sorry, Sister Catherine. If you’re not going to let me help you . . . it's not something I need to be tested on. All you thought was I was upsetting the novices with hallucinations, probably schizophrenic . . .
Calling out to the night manager.) Jimmy, I'm with someone I know. You don't mind if we stay a while longer. You can start turning off the lights if you want—we don’t care.
(The lights are lowered.)
(To SISTER CATHERINE.) I guess I should be humbled you’re even here. I know why you came, it’s not for my personality. God called me to enter the convent. I wanted to save the world, found out I couldn't do that. I could save myself, maybe. I took the holy vows; I broke them, not because of you . . . not because of you, Sister Catherine, who wanted to get me out! . . . but because I couldn't stay any longer and honor myself, who I was! I did hear voices, I did see—I won't let you or anyone tell me–I took the ring off. I left Him.
(Calling out, suddenly, loud, to the spirit world.) Let’s get going! I've got two people here who need to go to work in the morning!
Sometimes I think of Sister Frances crying “Mama” before the death rattle. The old nuns kept asking me to read Hildegard of Bingen, “I, the fiery life of divine wisdom, I ignite the beauty of the plains, I sparkle the waters, I burn in the beauty of the sun, and the moon, and the stars.” (Silence.) (Scanning her speech.)
I’ll look at this again tomorrow, I’m too tired now. "To believe that there must be somebody else out there just like you, it must be easier than to imagine you're alone." (Pause.) You won’t mind if I leave when I’m through packing up. I understand you don’t want to talk—I don’t mean to be mad. (Another set of lights is turned off.)
(REVEREND ELIZABETH senses a spirit.) A young man . . . You know who he is, he’s saying. He shows me the image of a crow, like one you saw this morning. I'm aware of St. Anne, the church where his urn is buried: Thomas. He assures me he didn't take drugs like crack and cocaine. It started with pills only to get high. He’s your sister's son, does any of this make sense to you? His roommate, never noticed or thought he was being forgetful, planning a retreat. Thomas takes the medication, slowly, not to be caught: Xanex, Tylenol with codeine, Halcyon, OxyContin, a precious capsule of morphine—anything, anything he can get his hands on. Carefully he builds his stock, only to be told someone would be checking up on him, staying part of the time, watching—you.
(Gaining intensity as the lights fade.) He doesn't want you to be hurt. He's sorry for any trouble he's caused you. He couldn’t face his depression, he’s saying. He knows you didn’t know how to help him. You can’t stop it, no matter what you do. You can’t wake him up. You can’t lift his body any further. Come back to life. You’re the one who’s alone. You’re the one who’s dead! (Pause.)
I won’t leave you.
(Reprinted from One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century. All rights reserved.)