Prayer for snow

Monday 23 February 2015 — Homeport: Falmouth Harbor — Lenten Monday No. 1

In a cave high in the Scandinavian mountains there has been found a frozen piece of oak. Inscribed in runes, it appears to be a transliteration from Yupik, the language of the Inuit, also known as Eskimos. Some scientists speculate it was brought back from Arctic regions by a roving band of ancient Norse explorers. Others say it probably originated in modern times either in Stowe, Vt., or Vale, Colo. It’s signed by someone named Nanook of the North, but that’s probably a pen name. It contains a prayer for snow. 

Oh Lord of Heaven and earth,
Who alone doth send down upon the earth both rain and snow,
Be pleased to bury us in huge mounds of freshly-fallen snow. 
Let it be the thick powdery kind so as to be of greatest benefit to our ski resorts. 
But preserve in a dry and safe condition the roads and highways leading to the slopes.
And may our packed surfaces last until the Fourth of July.

I’m certain this prayer is a forgery. I have evidence that proves it was written just this winter season by a priest in North Conway, N.H. My source is a parish secretary who wishes to remain anonymous due to the fact that she is unauthorized to speak. 

To combat this North Conway prayer, I have written my own: “Dear Lord, please disregard previous prayer from Conway. Amen.” I hope it works, but as of this writing, my prayer from Cape Cod has not yet kicked in. I know this because of recent events here at St. Patrick Church. 

It was a dark and stormy night. Father Wallace (FXW) and I were sitting in my quarters discussing the record-breaking winter weather. Little did we realize that the temperature outside had reached a wind-chill factor of minus-20 degrees. I heard a thump and went to investigate. It was probably just some snow sliding off the rectory roof. I heard a second thump. A plummeting icicle, perhaps? Then I heard the gurgling sound of water. Not just a drip, mind you, but a powerful rush of water. Although I have never been to Yellowstone National Park, this is, I imagine, what “Old Faithful” sounds like.

I ran downstairs and, lo and behold, there was the spitting image of another national park right there in the visitor’s parlor — Niagara Falls. I can make this comparison because I have, in fact, been to Niagara Falls on several occasions. I went to seminary in Ontario, Canada, as surely you remember, dear readers.

Father Peter called the plumbers.

It was understandable that the plumbers could not rush over immediately. They were being deluged by phone calls reporting frozen pipes. Father Peter and I inspected the church complex. We went to the farthest reaches of the heating system — the laundry room. The faucets weren’t working. There were more frozen pipes near the first floor church office. Young Father Peter John could hear the drip clearly, but the sound was beyond the range of my much older ears. 

Father Peter John called the Town Water Department to shut off the water from the street until the situation could be appraised. Nobody was home at the Water Department. The taped message instructed him to phone the police department. The police dispatcher had the number for the person on emergency call at the Water Department and proceeded to contact him. A town worker showed up at the door within minutes. He determined it would be unnecessary to shut off the water in the rectory and the church, so just the house was shut down. 

The plumbers arrived the next morning early and went to work. They certainly knew what they were doing. The repair work was done in stages. All water was restored by the end of the day. I telephoned the diocesan Insurance Office to alert them to the turn of events.

I now have even more “conversation starters” to add to my display on the living room mantel — two cracked copper elbows and a broken valve. If anyone ever asks why it is that these strange things are on the mantel, it will be the perfect opportunity for me to launch into a story. I have Irish ancestry, you realize. Story-telling is in my genes. Oddly, I have noticed, though, that people seem to be avoiding asking me about the collection of “conversation starters.” I suspect the word has gotten around.

For me, it was just another day of chaos. Being a seasoned pastor, it was no big deal. The star of the day, however, proved to be Father Peter John to whom I had delegated many of the tasks. I mostly watched from a distance. He has to learn these things. He’ll need first-hand experience when he himself is named a pastor. I hereby award Father Peter John Fournier a first-class certificate in advanced crisis management. 

As for that priest from North Conway, I have a bone to pick when I get my hands on him.

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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