Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tweeting the 25th

I don't tweet but if I did, this is how the last two days would look:

Friday midday: Get a call at the office from Eugenio, just back from Colombia and also a lot of articles, photos, and some news coverage for the blog. Am told that I absolutely cannot miss the Misa de Sanación that night because the bishop of Zacatecoluca, El Salvador -- Padre Alex's bishop! -- will be the celebrant. I was going to get my hair cut and rest up for Saturday. "I don't have a ride to Sterling.""Don't worry. I'll pick you up at 7 p.m." Okay. I like riding with Eugenio because it gives us a precious few minutes of (mostly) uninterrupted time.

5 p.m.: We are given leave at 4 p.m. By the time I finish our blogs, it's an hour later. Stop to pick up some take-out sushi for dinner. Eat, shower, and don the black and white uniform and wait.

7 p.m.: Eugenio shows up in a car that is less cluttered than usual. He's feeling good and we chat amicably on the way to Sterling. He says he has been reading this blog while he was in Colombia. "Storms come and go," I say. He says that the Vatican is reading the blog. I tell him they read what has been posted about responses to the Pope's encyclical. Eugenio thinks they care about what lay people are saying... no comment.

8 p.m.: Get to Cristo Redentor. The hermanos there treat me royally and have set aside a good front row seat for photo taking.

Friday night: Healing Mass starts. The bishop is a good soul but his homily is overly long for a Friday night. We move through the liturgy seamlessly, if slowly. I think we're done, but then Padrecito decides that the testimonios are indispensable and throws in another mini-homily -- an unfortunate habit of his when we have guest preachers. Not to be outdone by the ordained, several of the testigos offer their own lengthy predicaciones. (Note to self: the Renovación needs to get back to the ABCs with an emphasis on "B" as in BREVE, por favor).

Later Friday night: Finally it's over. Lots of people giving and receiving laying on of hands and even the bishop and visiting clergy roll up their sleeves and jump in. We end with tamales and donuts. Padrecito steals the bishop's skull cap and places it on his head. Lots of laughter. I snap a photo but it's too dark so the colors are wierd, hence the grayscale. The bishop accuses me of being a paparazza. I tell him I've never had the pleasure of catching Padrecito doing anything tabloid-worthy.

Midnight: The girls from Santa Ana pile into Vilma's car and ride home amid much joking and laughter and I am reminded of why I love this group even when they drive me crazy.

Saturday 6 a.m.: The alarm goes off and I groan from too little sleep. Decide on the "Rebel Girl" look -- all black, low cut lacy tee, black gypsy skirt and chandelier earrings -- definitely and defiantly not chancery attire.

8:15 a.m.: Catch first of three buses to get to Springfield. By the grace of God, make all the connections and the last bus deposits me in front of St. Bernadette's two hours later.

10:15 a.m.: Enter the sanctuary to stake out a prime photo-taking spot. An hermana tells me to move because "these pews are for Padre Hoyos' family". I move to where she tells me to go and along comes Protocol Man who tells me I can't sit there because "those are for the priests" and then proceeds to lecture me on church photography protocol. I tell him I've only been photo'ing Masses almost twice a month for the last three years and that I'm going to do whatever is needed to get the photos Padrecito wants but that I never, NEVER use flash so no worries. I go outside to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, drink some water, take some Tylenol and try to keep the approaching migraine at bay. It doesn't work.

10:45 a.m.: JuanMM shows up and sits next to me in the pew to which I have been banished. Some nuns sit in the priests' area. Eventually Protocol Man works up the nerve to evict them too. But when there are still vacancies in the "family" pews as the Mass begins, I relocate. Solidarity be damned; I have a job to do.

11 a.m.: Mass. Padrecito offers his homily bilingually. English speakers also get to hear a lavish praise of our bishop; Spanish speakers hear him remember Jairo and throw a few punches at the FARC. I like it best when he sticks to the script and talks about love. "As the years go by," he says, "I am more and more convinced that the key to the priesthood is nothing other than love. Nothing is more important or more decisive than love and the priest is called to be a specialist in love." (Move over, Padre Alberto, 'cause you ain't got nothing on Padrecito when it comes to talking about luv). At some point he actually says we need a "revolución de amor"; my mind wanders off to Maná...

Noon: The Mass is over and we are invited for refreshments -- 3 cookies, a piece of cake and a can of Inca Kola. Padrecito comes out surrounded by a gang of bodyguard servidoras, signs autographs, poses for photos, and generally lives up to his "Padre Juanes" moniker. He cuts the cake and eats the first piece and, being as he is calling this his "Boda de Plata", I wonder if one of us should smush some cake in his face like newlyweds do at wedding receptions sometimes in this country ...probably not a good idea, although P. Alex daubs some icing on Padrecito for a laugh (see Boys will be boys) .

1 p.m.: It's very hot and the migraine is getting worse. JuanMM graciously gives me a ride home and some tips for an upcoming trip to Barcelona.

Saturday afternoon: More meds, a neck massage from my friend, a little food and water and a nap. Recharge the camera batteries and change into "cocktail attire" for the "25th Anniversary Fiesta" gig at the OAS.

6 p.m.: Quick iced coffee at Starbucks. Come out of the store to witness a fight in progress between a white couple and a black woman and who knows who else. Police arrive and order all parties to separate, sit down and shut up. The black woman has a huge lump on her forehead where she was struck by the white woman. More police arrive to take testimony from the eyewitnesses. There's been more and more of this nonsense lately around here-- public drinking, disorderly conduct, loitering, etc...It's depressing. I pray for the bus to arrive quickly, get on, tune my MP3 player to Mano Negra ("Guayaquil City") and close my eyes.

6:45 p.m.: Walk from Farragut Square to the OAS, listening to Françoise Hardy to clear my head and calm my nerves. Turn off the MP3 player, throw out the Starbucks cup and paste a smile on my face. Lots of elegantly dressed people, both steak and salmon for dinner, wine (though not for me), more cake (though not for me), mucho pisto but not many people parting with it, more elaborate homages to Eugenio and more photos, but too obscure and too many competing photographers with high-powered flash. Even the paid photographer gets tired and tells me that the speeches are too long. He gets himself a drink, and then another one. I wonder how much this extravaganza cost and where the money came from and thank God I'm out of the accounting business.

11 p.m.: Walk to the Metro past the homeless bedding down in the doorways for the night. Wonder how El Salvador fared against the U.S. in the World Cup qualifier (they lost...but only barely) and think how much happier we would be curled up on a sofa, watching the game and eating pupusas...

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