We saw them on Church Lane as the bells tolled above and around us - a small girl and her grandparents laughing, she skipping along while they followed at a more subdued pace.
"Take my picture, Granny!" said the girl, standing in the ancient doorway and hopping up and down. Grandmother looked dubious, but Grandpa said 'yes of course', and so they all paused for their photo shoot on a Sunday morning in St Ives.
We arrived at church as the bells rang on, and noticed straight off that something was different. Several things were different, actually, and I noted them all, in a whisper, to my husband.
"The new Vicar isn't here."
"I don't know, but the Vicar from before him, is here." We kept walking in. And then,
"The choir isn't here."
"I'm not sure. They've always been here, so something must be up." I glanced around. "Oh. And the organist..."
"I know. He isn't here." Having established that the ENTIRE CHURCH was missing, I began to notice that no, really, it wasn't. The nice young Scottish man was there to represent the choir; and another organist was taking the place of our organist; and then the incense carrier entered, followed once again by the Cross, the candles, and the not-new Vicar at the end.
And it was a wonderful service, everything you would want a service to be. The replacement organist was splendid, and played everything with great energy, pulling knobs and swelling volumes and turning pages with vigor - really, it was fun to watch. At the end, his recessional was so upbeat that it made everyone in there tap their toes. And in fact, it set the Vicar to dancing. It did! I am not making this up. We all laughed in the most friendly way, feeling as though we would like to be brave enough to dance up a church aisle.
Over tea and biscuits, we learned that some of the church leaders were on holiday, and that was why so many key players were missing. The replacement organist, holding his tea cup, had something of a crowd standing around him. We stared a bit because he was close to 6'9", so everyone had to crane their necks back to see his face. I had trouble doing this, but found that if I bend backwards at the waist, I could just about do it.
"Um. Are you also a basketball player?" I asked, when it was my turn.
He laughed. "No, not a basketball player. In fact, not a sportsman at all. I am the worst possible person to put on a court or a field somewhere. Absolutely hopeless."
We listened some more, and discovered that he would be back next week because our organist will still be on his holiday. It is quite astonishing to be in a church that has two such amazing organists. It seems so different from the state of California, where almost no one has a gigantic organ for someone splendid to play on a Sunday.
I wonder if organ-playing will make a comeback, one day. I sure hope so. I think we could use a few more ministers so inspired that they actually want to dance up the aisle.
See you along the Way!
Sunday in St Ives