Yesterday was a day for household tasks, washing, cleaning and tidying the office to set everything in order for the next locum priest. There will be a gap of a couple of weeks unfortunately, so this week I've had to restrict food purchases to ensure that by tomorrow morning the fridge is empty of perishables, and make sure everything else is stored where it can be easily found. That was quite a culinary challenge. We always tend to buy more than we think we need. Draft sermons from two lay worship leaders arrived for me to look over. It's great they are so eager to do things well.
In the afternoon, while visiting the bottle bank, I made time to stand and stare at the waves pounding on the beach, counting three people and a dog enjoying the sea. All the Costa Norte beaches are pretty quiet now that it's not quite so warm and overcast for much of the day. I wish I could take the beach and the music of the waves home with me to Pontcanna. The roar of the river Taff passing under Blackweir Bridge doesn't quite do the same for me. I struggled to stay awake to the end of this week's episode of 'Inspector Montalbano', not because it was un-engaging, but because I felt tired after my excursion to Tarragona, tired anticipating my journey home and a change of routine.
This morning the intense humidity returned, with overcast skies. It was most unwelcome after a few cooler windy days. I felt as if I was running a temperature, but not so. There were good congregations for the Eucharist. Twenty in Vinaròs and over fifty in Alcossebre, more people are returning from summer vacations elsewhere or arriving for late holidays. Former Chaplain Paul Needle and his wife Linda joined us at Vinaròs. Paul played piano, duetting with Ken on his Euphonium. I was surprised at how few people seemed familiar with the last hymn I chose: "Go tell everyone the news that God's kingdom has come." I'd hoped would cover the subsequent farewell with a note of exuberance. People were very warm and appreciative as I took my leave to get to Alcossebre in good time.
I really had to keep checking my speed as I drove through Vinaròs and then Benicarló, something I don't usually find a problem, and I wasn't late. Nervous about making my final journey? Taking my final service? It was, in any case, a day to remember and reflect on journeys of discovery made over the past three months, and how much I've enjoyed this particular experience of gap-filling ministry. I've had no trouble finding my way about in a new environment or making myself understood. The only thing that has caused me trouble is the high level of humidity. Does any in-comer ever get properly ascclimatised I wonder? How long does it take?
The singing at Alcossebre was vigorous and enjoyable. I had time to chat with the worship leaders about preaching and service taking, before and after the service. Then I went to visit and pray with Ray, now back at home in nearby Las Fuentes after his spell in Castellón hospital. I'd only been to his place once before with Les and Brenda. This time I had to find the apartment with only the address for a guide. I was pleased my memory served me quite as well as it did, and arrived just as Ray was entering the building, having gone out to bar for Brunch. The exertion made him quite tired, so I only stayed a short while before heading home for a late lunch of paella, prepared last night to give me a head start. Then, more washing and case packing. Early start tomorrow.