Father Clive OíShannessy always enjoyed the seclusion of his studyóespecially after early morning weekday mass. But today an unseen invader had been shoved under his door. It was only after he had pushed a little harderóthereby scuffing the object along the carpetóthat the invader identified itself as a now heavily-traumatized envelope.
He stooped to retrieve it and place its scrunched contents on his desk before he slid onto his chair. The envelope had clearly endured frequent and severe maltreatment well before he had unwittingly given it the last rites; for its previous rips were overlaid by the wrinkled remain of much adhesive tape.
The scrawled writing looked familiar, but with letters so forcefully indenting the page that he almost wondered if he was holding the underside of a message stamped in Braille. Not more trouble, he thought, with a sense of impending doom.
The church janitor had always shown great dedication to his responsibilities, without ever being a close neighbour of happiness. And yet again, something was stuck in his craw.
Leaning on his desk with his forehead in his handsóas if his brain needed extra support while defusing the janitorís latest verbal missileóFather Clive began to scan its furious contents.
Dear Father Clive,
Iíve been cleaning this church for over fifteen years, so I reckon Iím an expert in fixing carpet stains. Spilled drinks and food scraps from potluck dinners, and repairing damage from cigarette burnsóyou name it and Iíve had to fix it up.
Weddings always leave me with confetti or rice to extract from the carpet or the drapes. Not always because of the wind coming in, but from people who donít listen when you ask them to wait until they get outside before they do their worst.
Iíve had to clean up after babies have thrown up on pews and all over the floor.
Iíve had to clean up plaster dust, paint spills and rubble from tradesmen whose only cause in life seems to be to mess everything up for whoever has to do the next part of any renovation work.
But this new childrenís worker is just too much.
Last Christmas he hung big stars and angels everywhere above the choir loft, and afterwards I had to repair all the holes and repaint the ceiling. I also fell off a ladder and nearly broke my neck trying to scrape off the glitter that heíd also glued everywhere it was never meant to be.
That was bad enough, but Iím disgusted with his latest crazy idea.
He wants everybody to re-enact Jesusí march into Jerusalem on the Sunday before Easter.
Now I donít mind kids waving a few palm fronds and tossing cloaks on the floor. And the noise they make wonít leave any mess.
But this guy wants to use a live donkey. Can you believe that?
Doesnít he know how strong donkeys are? Or that they will bite onto anything at all? Or what could happen if it gets spooked? And Iíve never come across a donkey thatís been toilet-trained.
Father Clive, Iím quitting because I just canít Face Palm Sunday!
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