Wednesday, 24 June 2015

We are rich

Fr. Gerard preaches in Spanish in Moratinos Sunday morning

Life is rich, we are rich. The sky is full of sun, the fields full of grain, larks, lizards. Our house is full of pilgrims, builders, wanderers, dust, dogs.
It is busy here, busy all over town, busy up and down the camino.
The new mattresses finally arrived at Monasterio San Anton. Lots of you blog readers contributed to that, and I thank you. We bought some new cookware, and fly screens, too. The people who've stayed at San Anton are generous as well -- with the donations left there in the month of May, Ovidio bought a small propane-powered refrigerator, so the hospitaleros can keep milk and cheese and meat for longer than a few hours. Things are going well there. I am very pleased.
Here at Peaceable, the latest Big Thing is the Camino Chaplaincy, a Catholic outreach that aims to open up understaffed churches and offer pilgrim Masses in English. Father Gerard Postlethwaite, an English priest with missionary credentials, has been here for a week, staying in our guest room. He opens our church early every morning and meets and greets the pilgrims. He hears confessions, songs, stories until noon. He is a great listener. He loves these people.
At about 4 p.m., even in the blistering afternoon heat, he walks 3 km. east to Terradillos de Templarios, a village with two good-sized pilgrim albergues and an accommodating church. He visits each of the albergues to invite the pilgrims to come, and then he sets the table for Mass.
Meantime, I round up pilgrims here in Moratinos, and bring them in the car.
Pilgrims at Terradillos, waiting for the Mass to begin

We sit them all down up 'round the altar, and at 5:30 we do a Mass. In English, mostly, depending on how many townspeople turn up.
Gerard is priest. I'm the reader and "eucharistic minister," which means he gives the communion bread, and I serve the wine. (This is a rare sight in rural Spain for several reasons, but it is perfectly legal, church-wise.)
It's the same service every day, but every day is markedly different from the others. The ever-changing mix of nationalities, languages, weather, exhaustion and energy levels, spirituality, and comfort zones makes it all fascinating.
And every day I have to study up on another set of scripture passages, another Psalm. I get to declaim them, read them out, fill up the church space with that ages-old poetry. I love it. And when you love what you do, people notice. You sometimes can touch their hearts.
We are doing well. Our numbers are very good.
In the great cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, 50 to 80 people crowd into similar English-language Masses every morning. Out here in a tiny town on the plains, we draw 16 or 20 each evening. Not bad.
Construction continues in the front end of our house. The place is still cluttered with items waiting for new homes in the new storage room. The dogs are displaced into the back yard, where they've wcked the vegetable garden. Ollie is here, helping with whatever pilgrims arrive, helping Bruno build a wall, cutting brush, mopping floors, biding time til he goes back to San Anton.
Frederic, aka "Popeye the Sailor Man," is back on the scene, too -- we have him shifting tons of scrap lumber and cutting them into firewood. This is his third time working here. He works long and hard and well. I think he may be an angel of some sort. He is a scruffy hobo, really, but there is something innocent and child-like about him. He finishes a 10-hour day with chainsaw and hatchet in 90-degree heat, and at the end he thanks me.
Soon everyone will finish up and go home. The plaster will dry, we'll put everything back where it belongs, we can have our dinner out on the patio again. I will be very glad to get things back to something like normal, because all the hubbub gets tiresome.
I will look back on this and say, "wow."
I will sigh, and relax, and kinda miss it all.


Anonymous said...

I kinda miss it all too...

love, k

Carmen Fairley said...

Dear Rebekah, Paddy & Ollie,
I loved my visit at your home! Meeting the three of you plus other folks in your village was one of the high points during my 2-1/2 week stint walking parts of the Camino after a couple years of reading your blogs and posts and coming to appreciate your experience and wisdom relating to all matters to do with the Camino. Reading your post fills me with a deep wish that I were walking now and was able to be with you to experience mass in your local churches and to savor the presence of the priest whose arrival was on the near horizon during my less than 24 hours in Moratinos last month. Your role during the service is so familiar to me as I've often served as a reader and administrator of the chalice in my home congregation. (And as the deacon's wife in a very small parish I am most often the one that hand launders and bleaches in the sunlight the purificators that miraculously arrive back in the sacristy pristine and smooth after the touch of my steam iron!) I wish you all love, joy, peace and hope as your church doors are open and as you continue to meet the needs of the pilgrims that come your way. I give thanks that I was one of them.

With my love and blessings, plus my wishes for your great enjoyment of all the fruits, both the spiritual and the edible kind!

Anonymous said...

Father Gerard has credentials! Awesome! From whom? Clearly the right man to show us the stairway to heaven; his documents prove it beyond doubt.

Thanks a zillion for your colorful blog, which shows us just how wonderful a person you are; selfless, special, but above all, Christian. And as you say yourself, much loved.

It was truly memorable to meet you this year. So much learned. So much truth shared about you with others...