Tuesday, July 19, 2005

the wild side

After digging up fragments of the Pazuzu idol in northern Babylon (Iraq) I had a rough couple of months that culminated in getting thrown down a flight of stone steps by Captain Howdy.

I needed a change of scenery.

I am now assistant pastor and resident exorcist at an inner city parish in New England. The church I serve was built in 1872 by the German immigrant community in what was then a residential area. Now the parish is 98% hispanic and it's hard to imagine its surroundings ever being residential. Train tracks, a four story parking garage, an old Firestone service center and two highway overpasses comprise the view.

This is the church. Cel phone photo. We're on a tight budget.

The external setting is urban wasteland, yet I have become increasingly aware of the fact that I am not alone. The rectory, also late 19th century, and the few trees and brambles that adorn it are home to a variety of furry and feathered friends. To wit:

1. a family of cardinals - the nest appears to be on a transformer box atop a pole that leans precariously over the railway tracks, sporadically visible from my second floor bathroom window

2. a family of blue jays - not sure where they nest, but the male polices the airways and enforces a no fly zone on the crows that regularly intrude

3. at least two families of robins - garrulous and inquisitive; they, too, think they own the place

4. crows - dark and threatening, I've seen them poaching the other birds' young

5. a family of groundhogs - one entrance to their tunnels is directly under the kitchen window, another is by the garage and I suspect they have other exits across the tracks

6. squirrels - they come up to the sacristy door, they break into the attic and they fear neither God nor man

7. at least two skunks - they aren't noisy, yet somehow you know when they're around

8. lots of bats - they zip around the windows of the rectory at night in an aerial ballet of sheer lunacy, I have found that they dislike cigar smoke

Well, you're thinking, it would appear that the exorcist has a lot of time on his hands to be so observant of the exuberant wildlife around the parish...

Yup. And those are just the critters on the outside of the church.

Wait till you see the assortment of creatures we have on the inside.
Oh, yeah. A real Noah's Ark...