I live in the center of Madrid, built in the center of Spain by the order of a king around 1606. I live on the top floor of the Spanish Episcopal Cathedral in the center of the center. Put your thumb on a Spanish map. Put it in the center of Madrid. I’m right under that. I’ve been here seven years and when I ask my boss, the Episcopal bishop of Spain, how long I will be here, he says it is a contrato indefinido.
No one is more surprised than me that I am here. Spaniards perhaps think the strange expression on my face is the result of all my labored “r” rolling, but it is probably also the fact of my wonder. The place and its people suit me, although they are a place and a people that couldn’t be more different from me, and perhaps that is why they suit me.
I am the national secretary for the Episcopal bishop, who is Spanish. As the Anglican church spread through the British Empire in the nineteenth century, it mainly took root in English-speaking places—British colonies, including the United States where, largely because of the revolution there, it decided to call itself Episcopal rather than Anglican. But somehow the Anglican Church also took hold here in Spain, embraced by the Spaniards, in Spanish. Unlikely. There was an effort to spread the Anglican faith into Portugal and Italy too, but Spain was where it caught on most. We’re so tiny and curious here in Catholic Spain—five thousand believers in a country of 43 million Catholics—that Spaniards are always astonished at our existence no matter how many times I explain it.
I am the national secretary for the Episcopal bishop. I answer the door, I do the church newsletter, I answer the phone, I travel with him, I conduct services, I preach, I empty trash, I hand out bags of food on Saturday. In between all of that, I have time in this office to look at the map of Spain with tiny pins showing where our few priests are.