Holy Week- Maundy Thursday

Going to church while walking is a complicated operation.

If you are walking from point A to point B and know it will take six hours, waiting for a church service that begins at 11am is impossible.

Leaving early enough to get to the next town by 11 usually doesn’t work either.

If you’re time it just right on Sunday morning while you are walking through some tiny hamlet, bells will start to ring.

You find the church and walk through the door.

That doesn’t happen often but it has happened three or four times and it’s nice.

Sometimes “church” occurs at unexpected times and in unexpected places.

Last week I struck up a conversation with Grant from Florida and we ended up stopping off the path and saying noon day prayers together.

We leaned against a fence. He leant me a prayer book and followed on his “Common Prayer” App. When the psalms didn’t match we gave up and shared his iPhone. The past met the future.

Our scheduled day for Palm Sunday was a long walk, early start, late church combo. So although I missed church, I did get my palms.

Not “palms to go”from an usher at the door or “drive by palms” Times Square style but close.

I took them from a huge pile in the back of the church the night before Palm Sunday while trying to find out the service times. I took a few leaves. They are still in my pocket. Time will tell if they get through customs.

They look like the same kind of wild shrub we saw several years ago while walking near Ronda.

There, the Palm Procession started in a tiny chapel high up on a hill and processed down through huge cactus to the church.

This year it was palms in the pocket on the path with prayers in my head .

But on Maundy Thursday we were in Lekeitio so I went to this historic church for the evening service.

The service was familiar although the basque language was a challenge. I could make out bits and pieces of the liturgy but I was lost in the sermon.

The choir was excellent and the hymns posted on screens on the sides of the church were a great help. The images such as the foot washing and the dove of peace kept me from being totally lost.

The arrangement in front of the altar of bread and grapes was a perfect image of the Last Supper.

I could not have been in a better place for Maundy Thursday.

After some prayers at the Altar of Repose, I walked out through the dimly lit church.

In the silence I was surrounded by the decorated floats depicting the crucifixion. These same floats would be carried through the town on Good Friday, a visual retelling of the Passion.

I leave you with a foretaste of what we would see in Bilbao.

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