How did that happen?

You see that lectern on my left

Yes, behind the velvet rope you never go beyond? Well, I did go behind it and I read the lesson at the moon Pilgrim mass! At the Pilgrim masses the epistle is always read in Spanish and some other language -often English.

If you have read this blog for a couple of weeks you will know that my Portuguese Camino was not a resounding success. I developed hip pain and tremendous anxiety about transporting my pack, finding accommodation, and handling the inherent loneliness such an undertaking involves. I bailed and bussed it to Santiago, a city I love. It is, of course, full of gleefull pilgrims who in spite of blisters and sunburns made it and collected their certificates. I know this floaty feeling as I did finish the Camino Frances two years ago.

There are some very nice nuns and priests who take care of pilgrims. Even the triumphant ones can feel reluctant to just pack up and go back to work, mowing the lawn, playing bridge. I met a couple of these ladies and had tea with them after the daily mass in the little chapel adjacent to the office where the certificates are handed out.

One day, sister Alicia asked me if I had ever read the lesson at liturgy. I had and she asked me if I would do so for the little congregation in chapel – ten people tops. It went well and two or three days later she upped the ante.

Would I read in the cathedral…on Sunday….at the moon pilgrim mass? Now we’re talking organ blasting, ten officiants, choir, incense burner… the whole thing. I gulped and played for time. I contacted my own priest who was agreeable. I am a member of an Orthodox community remember.

We had a little coaching session with a nun attached to the cathedral before the service started. I was teamed with a boy of about fifteen who at least could understand the cues of when we were to go up. He was to read first, in Spanish. Then there would be some singing and I would read my passage. St Peter’s first letter. I had been practicing all week and she looked askance at my crumpled sheet. A pristine one was in the book of service. (I still kept mine in my pocket… you never know!) it was 1Peter 2:20b-25). It went off quite well and since it takes place early in the service, we could both relax.

This is at the end when the butafumero is swung.

That’s the flashy part when service is over and people are allowed to take pictures.

So that’s the how but I’ve been puzzling over the why. Was it a consolation to make up for the walk having been such a mess? A call to duty, to say “ yes” when called? A reminder that wonderful surprises can still happen? Whatever the reason was, even though I was scared stiff sometimes, I’m glad I did it.

This is a film but I can’t make it play on the blog. I’m a bit hopeless with videos. I should take a course. Basically there men have to haul on a rope and make the incense burner swing like crazy.

I bought a book about the cathedral

So that’s a special memory. I’ll try to be like my young friend, Lucas and distill the meaning of it.

The first picture in this post was taken by a man who has a window cleaning firm in England. He cleans the windows in Norwich Cathedral. “ Nice to hear a bit of English. How’d you nab that job then?” So that’s why I wrote this.

3 thoughts on “How did that happen?

  1. What a special assignment you had! You’re allowed to dine out on that experience!

    And how nice that you met the window washer of Norwich Cathedral—to add to your extensive collection of interesting folks.




  2. That is absolutely wonderful, dear Isobel. And yes, there is no doubt in my mind that you were chosen specifically for this task. Congrats! And a memory that will last forever…! I look forward to hearing more about your trip when you return. I will also send a reminder out for the 19th May to our writing group. Once again, great pics. I have seen that 100 lb incense burner in action. Is it possible that you sent it two years ago? It is VERY dramatic. Cold and rainy here – we may have missed Spring and Summer, and skipped right to Fall…


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