Last week we still did our mid-week bible study, First Friday Holy Hour, three weekend liturgies, sick calls, and dealt with the fallout of power failures knocking out phones and internet for days at a time. But that without 5 CCD classes for over 50 kids is a relief.
Right now, however, we are planning 2 weeks back in MA. Ginni left on Thursday and I leave Tuesday (gotta stay for the weekend services). With packing the only major thing on the horizon it soon got complicated. We had a drowning.
A 16 year-old boy originially from here, whose family had moved to Nassau, then Miami, and now back here drowned only weeks after his family moved back to Andros. For me its my first Bahamian funeral - except, I'm leaving. So, I've met with the family in the midst of their grief (not something I have done that much of), prepared the liturgy, tried to find out who is coming next week to cover and fill them in, and deal with the complications of Mom never actually baptizing the boy while they were in Nassau or Miami.
Meeting this family was pure Bahamian. We met in the back yard, under a mango tree, in 90 degree heat, 80% humidity. About 5 little boys and girls squatting in a circle around us as we talked, with another 2 climbing the tree watching us from above. I was the only one with shoes.
We talked about his life, their moving to Nassau, then Miami, then back to Andros, and now this. We talked about faith, Grandma's faith, her daughters (the deceased boy's Mom), the siblings. Slapping mosquitos we walked through the liturgy, & how it might change since he wasn't baptized. We talked about how to best celebrate his life in this liturgy and what I would do to inform the visiting priest came to do it. All the while the children sat on the ground and listened - who knows how memories of this conversation may work in these kids years from now?
While you might think this would be enough - if I didn't mention it yet in the blog, July 10 is Independence Day here in the Bahamas. Yes 36 years a nation. Not just any nation, 36 years a Christian Nation! So when we get together to party all the clergy on the stage with all the politicians. There is an opening prayer, a closing benediction, a reading from the Word, and a teaching from the Word (and the political speakers as well). There was the Police Drill Team raising the flag at midnight and the fireworks that followed. In the midst of all that was the Prayer for the Nation - led by that Catholic Deacon. No stress, just lead a spontaneous prayer in front of members of Parliament, the Town Administrator, all the other clergy of Central Andros, and most of the people from Fresh Creek and the surrounding townships.
For me, doing the prayer was one thing. What really made me self-conscious was it was the first time I ever wore a Roman Collar. Yup, 7 years and I've never wore the black cleric shirt with the Roman collar. I did have one that was in the back of the closet and never seen the light of day and, since a parishioner mentioned that if I had any regalia this would be the night to wear it, out it came.
So my last week here before vacation I have a death, a national holiday, and I appear in public with the collar - rather momentus for a slow week.
Next week I fly on Tues.
WED-FRI we meet with the new tenants in our Canton home, and the old ones. We should touch base with our neighbors, friends, St. Timothy's, Deacon classmates, attend Prayer Meeting, and maybe even a round of golf.
SAT we go to NH to deal with that rental property and then spend that night with friends in Norwood.
SUN I hope to celebrate Mass with Fr. C at St. Timothy's, then it is off to Leominster to baptize the new twin boys my Nephew and his wife were blessed with while we were away.
MON its off to Long Island to see our sons Mike and Joe and also connect with our son Matt and his family home from Singapore.
We spend that week in Long Island and MON the 27th head back to MA.
Once back we'll be connecting with our extended family on that TUE - THUR then Friday its back to Andros - whirlwind trip but we do hope to see as many old friends as we can.
See you in church