Four years ago today, going by the calendar, I was living in Barcelona in a flat not far from the great unfinished Church of the Sagrada Familia. I was so skinny then, on this particular night wearing a skintight club shirt of shiny 100-percent artificial cloth of one sort or another, dancing wildly, drunkenly in a club called Arena, a bit unsure of myself, looking for love or even just some sex, and being disappointed.
Five years ago today, going by the feast days of the church, I was chanting the part of the evangelist in the passion gospel of John at the noon good Friday service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. On one side of me was the man chanting the part of Jesus, on the other side was the man chanting the part of Pilate. The congregation likewise stood.
In the order of service, an instruction was given that all should kneel when the story first mentions Golgotha. But, several lines before then, I had to chant about a place called Gabbatheh, and my diction obviously wasn't clear enough because everyone knelt then, although they realized their mistake when, a minute later, I chanted about a place called Golgotha.
I remember how difficult it was to chant for the five or more minutes it took to finish, but also how moving it was. I was nervous when I started, but the nervousness left me after the first couple of lines.
After I finished, they turned the cloth on the alter table over to red, and there was no more music in the service, and would be none until Easter morning.
It's odd what one remembers, the sacred and the profane.
The Swedish word for the day is Långfredag. It means Good Friday.
- by Francis S.