One of the problems of taking over a benefice just before Easter, is that many of the traditional services have been put in place by the 'holding' team. So plans for Holy Week, Palm sunday, Easter Sunday and Maundy Thursday carry the format that they always have done - but, of course The Rector@6 does not know this format. Palm Sunday was to involve a procession and a donkey in our village. Quite where they process or when (before or after the service) all had to be discovered. Where was the donkey to wait? Who picks up the poo (before someone complains)? What was the purpose - when the readings this year, do not mention a donkey - but refer to a colt - which is, of course, a male horse?
It has been wet and bitterly cold lately and, by chance, we happen to be on good terms with the lady who owns the donkey.We got the first inkling that things may not go to plan when The Rector@6 received a phone call the day before, from the donkey's owner, to say that her horse was probably about to foal and she may be otherwise occupied - as well as not being very well herself. A command decision was needed here as the donkey had to be cleaned up, boxed and trailed to the village - all in time for the 10.30 service on Sunday morning. So, at the risk of disappointing those who were only coming to church to see the donkey, - The Rector@6 cancelled the donkey. Such are the important decisions he has to make! And the foal did arrive in the middle of the night and the vet had to be called (mother and son doing well!) so it turned out to be the correct decision. There were a couple of disappointed children but some of us were secretly relieved that we were not going to trail behind the donkey in the bitterly cold wind! Coffee and a good chat seemed a very suitable substitution! I never thought I would be involved in stage managing a donkey - life does throw up some unexpected challlenges at the moment.
This is church number four. It was the old large key of this church that was used symbolically in The Rector's installation service - and it was this key that The Rector then put down and misplaced for 24 hours. The church has some beautiful stone carvings with song birds and foliage and an owl high above the pews. These are the designs of Thomas Hardy (author) as he worked for the firm that restored the church before he became well known as a writer.