Once again I write about our staff in a different setting outside the Space Center of 2008. I enjoy taking bits of current staff news and placing it in a story set either in the future or the past. All I ask is that you humor me as I exercise my imagination.......
The Priest’s voice echoed through the cathedral. The gray stone walls tossed his words back and forth until all that remained was a whisper lost in the rafters. My knees rested on a dark wood plank attached to the pew before me. My hands clutched each other in prayer. My eyes closed then opened.
His Latin was both a stranger and friend to my ears. A stranger, for the meaning was lost to all but those who spoke the Roman tongue. A friend, for I knew the Priest’s words were spoken in supplication to God on my behalf. It gave me comfort on that bitter cold Christmas morning in the Shire.
I watched my prayers escape my lungs forming white clouds disappearing as moisture on my hands. Each prayer asked God for health, the warmth of summer, good harvests and good stories with song. I pulled my woolen coat closer to my chest. I was disappointed that my coat had surrendered the argument to winter's temper.
The priest wore fine silk and linen. I wondered if he felt the cold. His vestments were fine compared to the simple wool my fellow troubadours and I wore. He lifted a golden goblet filled with wine toward heaven. An alter boy rang a small bell. We are told this is the time the wine turns to Christ’s blood which was shed to take away our sins. The sacraments connect us to God, forming a bridge between Earth and Heaven. There is comfort in knowing this when the time comes to lay down our earthly cares.
I took my attention off his words and gazed down the pew to my fellows. This was the right place and time to thank God for such fine company. There assembled were the Christian souls I shared my days with. All on bent knee - some in reverence, others in respect and the youngest out of duty.
My thoughts were disturbed from behind by soft laughter. Two of our maidens were whispering. Their eyes found the Baron’s oldest son. They seemed more interested in discussing his fair nature than attending to their praise of Christ's birth. I cleared my throat and lowered my eyebrows to show displeasure. They understood and redirected their devotion. Our younger Troubadours are growing older, and with age comes thoughts of love. It is natural but not in chapel.
I returned to my prayers. The choir sang. The melody of their voices in chant brought a sense of warmth to the congregation. I saw Master BJ accompanied by his sister Maiden Megan. He seemed content. Word had come from the Bishop that his application to join the brotherhood was accepted. He will soon wear the robe of the traveling friar and join our former troubadours Masters Bracken and Casey as they carry the gospel to the heathen in far off lands.
Our travels take us to distant points as we practice our trade of story and song but Master BJ’s road will take him even farther still. He will embark in the month of March for a place beyond the Holy Land. A place known only to God.
Maiden Emily joined us for the service. We were pleased. She escaped a wagon accident without injury. She had a misunderstanding with another wagon concerning who should yield the right of way. She lost the argument. The wagon can be replaced but not the talent of a gifted performer. She has a spirit that never stops but we hope she remembers that wagons must from time to time.
My thoughts were brought back to the present by the ringing of another hand bell. The congregation began to repeat the Priest’s words. I heard something that didn't sound like Latin. To my left I saw Master Mark asleep with head in hand. His snoring was gaining volume in an attempt to challenge the cathedral organ for dominance. Staying awake past dusk was a challenge for him. Staying awake during Midnight Mass required a miracle. That miracle came in the form of Maiden Brittany. She nearly sent him to the stone floor with a gentle nudge. There was hushed laughter from the younger Troubadours. Maiden Metta brought reverence back to the pew with a glance and a finger to the mouth. Master Mark glanced up and down the bench. He would remain awake as long as our eyes were upon him. I'm reminded once again that Living a simple life teaches you to find humor in the simplest of things.
The Mass was nearing its end. I returned to my prayers. We live in troubled times. There is uncertainty in the Kingdom with a new king soon to be crowned. There are wars in foreign lands. There is news of a plague in nearby Shires. So tonight, and all nights of this holiday season we remember how fragile our time is and how grateful we are for another year with family and friends. We are blessed by the knowledge that as long as we have our kinsman and friends we can weather all obstacles.
Again, my thoughts returned to the Mass. My knees felt locked with the cold. I was glad the service was at an end. It was time to stand. The large wooden doors of the cathedral opened introducing us to the north wind. A warm fire and bed awaited.