Last week, the the phone rang. It was Paul.
Paul has a farm, makes award-winning muscadine wine, pickles okra, and raises all sorts of creatures. He also makes peach moonshine, but I don't think they give ribbons for that at the State Fair. He is, as far as I know, the archetypical country-boy--and an eight year-long convert to Russian Orthodoxy.
Since he has a good bit of land, Paul is in charge of our Holy Trash. These are the things used in the church that could still contain pieces of, or could have touched the Holy Things: candles, crumbs, plates, napkins--anything we just wouldn't want mingled with regular trash. So he burns it for us.
Paul: "Father Mark, we have a situation..."
Fr Mark: "What is it?"
Paul: "The goat ate the Holy Trash."
Fr Mark: "What?"
Paul: "I had the Holy Trash in the bed of the truck. I was going to haul it to the back of the farm to burn. The goat got in and ate it."
Fr Mark: "Well, Paul, you know what this means…
Fr Mark: "It means you have to burn the goat."
The question on my mind, is whether in the almost 2000-year history of Orthodox Christianity something like this has happened before. It seems likely. It seems even likelier there is a canon somewhere about it.
NOTE: Paul didn't burn the goat. The priest was kidding.