I feasted my eyes upon the gorgeous frescoes that adorned the ceiling one more time, then turned to the exit. When I reached the wide doorway, I saw that today (to my great surprise) the forecasters had been right. There was a heavy rain.
Of course, I hadn’t taken an umbrella. Who can properly enjoy walking around one of the most splendid European capitals with unnecessary stuff in hand? One hand is for my camera, another hand is for ice-cream cones. A third is not a given.
I turned around with the intention of going back into the church and waiting out the storm. No such luck. A stodgy man in a black robe blocked the passage. In answer to my wordless question he pointed to the notice board. It stated that the canonical hour would be starting soon, so I went out to the big porch in the rain. There was no choice.
The porch was quickly filling up with people. The rear pushed at the front, perplexed as to why they would stand out in the downpour and not enter. Toward them moved ‘exiles’ like me who had been turned out of the building. A sullen acolyte stood at the centre of this live whirlpool like a hard-shelled bouncer at a night club doorway. It looked like no one was fitting the dress code for this private party today.
I lifted my face to the grey sky and inhaled the heavy, wet air. Some huge raindrops fell on my cheek. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. There’s always choice.
I covered my head with a leaflet detailing the schedule of canonical hours, and ran to a bar opposite the church. Thank god these sanctuaries are always willing to embrace and warm the sick and suffering. Amen.
by TETIANA ALEKSINA
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