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It was Terry’s idea to pray in the Cathedral the night before her ordination, but the whole experience with Barton Caldwell was so exhilarating and draining at the same time that she abandoned the idea upon return to the palace. She did request, though, that she be left alone in her apartment to fast and spend time with God before coming up to be ordained. This lasted until about 1200, when she heard a knock on the door.
She was expecting Darlene’s lady-in-waiting to help her get ready, but instead it was her eleven-year-old daughter they sent. Terry had already been fitted in her cassock; the girl simply helped her finish the job and provide a little companionship before her big event. The girl, whom Darlene had helped through the rattlesnake bite five years earlier, had been well trained in her task by her mother, and was another of those well-mannered Serelian children.
The ordination was to take place in the Royal Study; about 1300 Terry and the girl went up together. When they reached the hallway they were met by both Algernon and Julian. Algernon was to present her to the Bishop, and Julian was with her for moral support.
“Are you all right?” Julian asked. He could feel her hand tremble.
“Not really,” Terry replied. “Anoint me, Julian, lest I collapse in the middle of this thing.” Algernon had stepped away, sensing the stress. Julian anointed her and prayed out of his heart rather than the Prayer Book. She was consoled by this, but Julian felt as he was almost carrying her up the hall to rejoin Algernon.
They stood in front of the closed door. Terry was expecting more traditional Anglican music, but instead she heard an acoustic guitar-vocal combination with a song from long in Terry’s past.
“That’s Paul and Peggy Bucek, from the Retreat,” Terry said to Julian. “ I can’t believe they’re here. Is Father Avalon?”
“He is,” Julian replied. “I’ve coordinated the music with them. They’re a fine couple.”
“They’re the best Catholic liturgists on the Island,” Terry noted. Hearing her old friends from the Retreat was a great comfort to her; it built her confidence. With the end of their song Julian and Algernon knew it was their cue; they opened the door and Terry walked into the room, with Algernon on her left and Julian on her right.
As she walked in, she could see many familiar faces packed into the room. There were Prince William and Princess Catherine from Drahla; Dennis and Andrea were coming for the wedding. Father Avalon was sitting directly behind the royal family. All of the Dillmans, including Devin and his family and parents, were there, as were several ministers from both the Church of Serelia and Alemara. Finally all of Terry’s Chinese relatives were there.
The Bishop was standing in front of the guests, a temporary altar was behind him. Algernon, Terry, and Julian came forward and stood before the Bishop. “Reverend Father, I present unto you this person present, to be admitted into the Order of Priesthood,” Algernon declared, and with that the ordination proceeded.
The ceremony proceeded as usual. The Bishop was not particularly hasty in his manner of conducting the ceremony, but he was not slow about it either. When the actual ordination was complete and he had said the Nicene Creed, he was about to begin praying for the whole state of Christ’s church when Prince William stood up.
“If it please all present,” he began, interrupting the Bishop, “it is the custom of many here to allow a prayer by those assembled over a person who is the object of a ceremony, be they a married couple, a minister receiving ordination such as her, or just someone about to embark on a special mission, such as when Terry went on the trip that has changed all of our lives. So we ask that it be allowed here.”
The Bishop was not prepared for this request, but at the King’s silent bidding he allowed it. Several of the guests came forward and laid their hands on Terry’s shoulders as she was kneeling. Closest amongst these was Darlene. The prayer wasn’t a very smooth “concert” prayer but it further lifted Terry’s spirit; this enabled her to get through the communion service without a problem.
The Bucek’s performed the music for the communion service, much to the Bishop’s distaste. Their song during communion told of the breaking of pride, something Terry had experienced quite a bit of the last several months. Their recessional was based on the same scripture that Julian had cited when Terry resigned her Pentecostal ministerial credentials. Once the communion service was over, the Bishop signed the necessary paperwork and made as speedy departure as he could. Algernon lingered but had to make preparations for Sunday. The royal family was thus able to rearrange the room for the party that they had planned for the occasion.
They let Julian and Terry sit with Avalon and the Buceks for the meal, since she hadn’t seen them much and Julian had never met them. It was another homecoming for Terry, this time in what was now her own territory. Julian got to hear about all the people at the Retreat, all of whom had come with Avalon—and Terry for that matter—twenty years ago.
“There’s something I find striking about this,” Julian suddenly piped up in the middle of all of this talk about families.
“What’s that?” Paul Bucek replied.
“All of you, except for Father Avalon of course, found a spouse from your number…except for Terry. I think she’s ravishing. Am I alone?”
Avalon and the Bucek’s looked at each other slightly sheepishly. Avalon turned back to Julian and said, “That deserves an explanation.”
“It certainly does,” Terry agreed.
“Didn’t you date Raymond des Cieux once or twice before we fled to the Retreat?” Avalon asked Terry.
“The Bishop?” Julian asked.
“Once or twice,” she answered.
“He went into the priesthood,” Avalon noted. “But, after we got to the retreat, she spent a lot of time with Steve Eck, who with Terry was in my special training ‘class.’ But he then went into the priesthood. He’s just been made monsignor in Alemara.”
“I was heartbroken over his going into the priesthood, from my standpoint,” Terry said. “That’s one reason why I’m a ‘Thirty-Second Article Girl’ now.”
Julian got a chuckle out of that, but he could see the puzzlement in the Catholics’ faces. Julian explained, “That’s our Article of Religion that permits our priests to marry. I’m rather fond of it myself.” Now everybody got a laugh out of it.
They chatted about other matters, but eventually Avalon turned to Terry and said, “You’ll never know how happy I am to see this. I feel that a major failure of my work for God has been erased. I know that you were very successful in the Pentecostal church, but for me this is more than I had hoped for when you were with us.”
“Your church took a bold step with this,” Paul Bucek noted.
“It wasn’t as much our Church as our King. The only reason why this has happened is because of a waver in canon law, not a change,” Terry explained.
“Do you really think that women in general should be ordained?” Peggy Bucek asked.
“I’ve been in ministry now for fifteen years,” Terry answered. “It’s not easy being a woman minister, even in a church that has permitted it for a long time. In Drahla, however, we had more pressing problems to attend to than my gender, and that’s one reason why my ministry was successful.
“My biggest concern, however, in, say, an Anglican or the Roman Catholic Church, comes from my experience in Verecunda. Most women who want to be priests are too liberal. They’re too busy worshipping Mother Earth when they should be giving their adoration to their Heavenly Father. If we could get past this problem, we’d be a long way to cutting the Gordian knot on the ordination of women in this type of church.”
Avalon looked at her in silence for a moment, then said, “Terry, I’m actually inclined to agree with you on that. But you need to also consider that, in our own church, the priest represents God to the people, and that is not really an appropriate role for a woman.”
“So how does that affect her in the Church of Serelia?” Paul Bucek asked.
“Only time will tell,” Julian answered. “But we are a more ‘Protestant’ church than many in our Communion—here it is not really proper to refer to our ministers as ‘priests,’ even though the Prayer Book does so.”
The meal completed, they turned to the celebration. With all of these musicians in the room, that wasn’t difficult. The Bucek’s played—and Terry sang with—many of the songs they knew and loved at the retreat. They had a piano in the room, and Julian also played hymns. But the whole tenor of the gathering changed when Terry, helped by George and Darlene, forced Julian to do something he had been reluctant to do up to then: play some of the songs he used to play when he worked in bars and nightclubs while at university. It took a little practice to get started, but once he did the whole room assumed a little of a club atmosphere—his rendition of “Last Date” was especially masterful.
“I used to always worry that my Pentecostal musicians’ style was so close to a bar room style that they would run off and play there,” Terry observed. “I had no idea when I came here that I would have the same problem all over again.” The whole room burst out laughing at that comment.
“Why?” Julian suddenly came back. “I won’t need to go there for the scantily clad women.” The tables were turned; Terry was totally wiped out at that comeback.
The gathering lasted for the whole afternoon and early evening, but eventually everyone left to get ready for Sunday.
Weather permitting, the normal custom of the Cathedral was to marshal all those in the procession, including the acolytes, choir and clergy in the courtyard before the start of service. The weather was iffy that morning—and went to rain in the afternoon—but they still did so.
Pending her wedding, Terry was vested at the Deanery with Algernon’s wife’s assistance; as she emerged to join her first procession, she met Julian in the breezeway that connected the garden with the courtyard.
“You should be at the organ,” Terry told her fiancé.
“I wanted to see you vested for the first time,” he told her. “You look lovely. In fact, you really look stunning in your cassock.”
“Thank you, Julian,” she replied. “Maybe now people will quit asking me asinine questions about why I don’t wear low-cut dresses.” She thought for a second. “Then again, maybe not—scantily clad women, indeed,” she gently scolded Julian, and walked away to join the procession. Algernon walked to Julian’s side as they watched her depart.
“I think you’d better attend to your duties at the organ before you get into any more trouble,” he advised his friend. Julian took his advice.
The Bishop celebrated a special communion service that morning; his main purpose, though, was to see how Terry performed as one of his assistants. After years in a church where she as pastor and preacher often didn’t know what would happen next in the service, she found the carefully scripted Anglican worship nerve-wracking. A good deal of the problem was in the “high church” regimen that the Bishop expected at the Cathedral, with its ornate precision. The services were more elaborate than anything she had experienced, even as a child at St. Sebastian’s. Algernon, who had come from being rector at a decidedly “low church” St. Matthew’s, was sympathetic with Terry’s plight. However, Julian’s training held her in good stead, and she got through it without incident, and by the end of the service her thoughts of her future husband were a lot cheerier.
The moment of truth came at 1730, when it was Terry’s turn to celebrate the Eucharist in place of Evening Prayer. By that time the rain forced the processional assembly into the colonnade; the Bishop, who in rare occasion attended service in the nave, was hoping this would dampen the crowd and act as a bad omen for the inauguration of her ministry as a minister in the Church of Serelia.
His hopes for the crowd at least were dashed. Word on the street had been that everyone in town wanted to witness this event, whether they approved of it or not; she also had numerous foreign guests, mostly from Drahla. Algernon, who was to assist Terry, had organised a battery of ministers to back them up. As the crowds filed in, they knew his foresight would pay off. At the appointed time they processed in behind the children’s choir; Julian had drafted them for the task for the special occasion. As she processed in, she knew all eyes were on her; Julian’s loud organ playing, which she found disconcerting the first time she had heard it, was now a comfort to her.
The Holy Communion went according to plan. She managed to get all of the pieces into place in the liturgy, although she chose the shortest route she could find. With the Creed done Algernon went ahead and made the announcements, including the third asking of the Banns of their marriage. After that, he retreated and Terry came up to deliver the homily.
One of Desmond’s more thoughtful innovations at the Cathedral was a wireless lapel microphone. Terry had it from the start. As she stood on the steps leading up to the chancel, she looked out on something few celebrants at the Cathedral had experienced: a standing room only congregation. With that challenge in front of her, she began her sermon.
“It does my heart good to see all of you here today. Many of you who have known me for many years have come to this celebration of the Eucharist; others of you don’t know me well at all.
“Most of you know that I was a minister in the Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship for many years, and while there I developed the habit of moving about when I spoke. I know that this is rather exceptional in this church, but I ask you to bear with me on this; such a public speaking habit is hard to break, and perhaps will make my delivery a little more interesting.
“I want to begin by thanking two people who have made this day possible. The first is, of course, our wonderful Sovereign, King Adam, by whose decree my ordination was done. I really need to extend my thanks to the entire royal family, Queen Annette, Prince George, and of course Princess Darlene, whose cry for Biblical guidance initiated this whole process.
“The second is our dear Bishop Collingswood. I would be less than frank if I didn’t say that he and I do not see eye to eye on everything. However, I need to say publicly that I have come to realise that his heart and his purpose is to uphold the teachings of the Apostles against those who would tear them apart. Our differences sometimes come in how this is to be done, but I believe that this Church is well served by having an individual as its Bishop who is prepared to defend Christ’s doctrine in this day and time.
“Our Gospel lesson today is as good a way as any to introduce what I plan to say. Probably the most important lesson that I have relearned in my months here in Serelia—and I have learned it in the midst of my love for this wonderful man who will become my husband in ten days or so—is that the most important part of our relationship with God is that we love Him. To love God presupposes that we know Him and have faith in Him. But if we do not love Him then our knowledge and faith is of limited value.
“My heart has been filled to overflowing on this matter, but this evening I think it best to address the issue that is on everyone’s mind, and in the process give you an opportunity to know me better, since we are now together in Christ in this church.
“As I said before, I was a minister in a Pentecostal church, and that fact generates a great deal of consternation amongst some of you. I want to go back further, though, and start before all that, when I was raised a Roman Catholic, a church that is very much like this one and at the same time very much unlike it.
“When I was a little girl, we had a thing at St. Sebastian’s in Point Collina called an ‘All Night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.’ To make this happen required that some of the men of the church be there to make sure that things went well and the church was secure. My father would always volunteer for the ‘graveyard shift,’ say between midnight and 0200. He did that because he wanted that to be our special time together, and usually few others if anyone would be there. Even though it was way past my bedtime, I would be so excited, I couldn’t sleep. We would arrive, sit right in front of the Tabernacle, and start by praying the Rosary together. After that we would talk about this or that, or he would read to me from the lives of the saints. My favourite life was St. Teresa of Avila; I always thought I was named after her, although my mother denied it. The best part was always when the angel came to her and thrust his spear into her heart, and she was filled with the love of God. Sadly, after a while I would always fall asleep. When I was young, he would carry out of the church in his arms and take me home; when it became obvious that many would look up to me in life, he simply woke me up so we could leave.
“One of those things I always wondered about—and my father never really gave me a good answer to this—is what it would feel like if, one night at home in bed or during one of those Adorations, the angel came to me and thrust her spear into my heart and I too would be filled with the love of God.
“As I grew older, I’d see these silly things with Cupid on it, shooting his arrows, especially around Valentine’s Day. I had the misfortune, though, of living in Verecunda in a day when Cupid carried rocket propelled grenades”—that got a laugh out of many of the veterans—“and his aim for me was very good. My heart was torn to pieces, and my life wasn’t very pretty to see.
“But God never forgot me, and I finally got my wish and more when our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came out of another tabernacle and met with me, and I realised how far I was from Him and how much I needed him. And on that night He Himself thrust that spear into my heart, and I was filled with His love, and I have never been the same again. And through the years and the intervening events, including our recent war, God has never left me nor forsaken me, because I always know that He loves me and I love Him.
“Now I stand before you a minister in the Church of Serelia, the first woman to have such a position. Many of you have many questions. What is she trying to do? Is it really right that she be a minister? Has the royal family lost its marbles?” That last got a laugh out of George and Darlene. “To tell the truth, I too have reservations about this—as I had when I was first approached about being a credentialed minister so many years ago. But then and now I have been reminded that God has a purpose and plan for my life, as he does for yours too.
“Part of this plan is wrapped up in my purpose in ministry, and it be easiest to state what my ministry is not about. I did not come here to be your first woman minister. I did not come here with a feminist agenda. I did not come here with a liberal agenda. I did not come here to change your Prayer Book. I did not come here to change your Articles of Religion. I came here first became one individual cried out for my help in understanding the Word of God and what God’s desire was for her life, for the life of her coming child, and for the life of her country. In answering that call, I found two things: there were others here with the same cry, and that I would end up paying a high price to answer that call.
“But that ultimately is as much a part of ministry as anything. But now that I have told you what my ministry is not, you should know what it is. The purpose of my ministry is to share and nurture what God has given me with you. It cannot be any more or less. To make that happen, a minister must share both the heartaches and the aspirations of those to whom he or she ministers.
“My own aspirations are simple. I want to know how to love God in the same way that the woman who anointed our Saviour’s feet with oil did. I want to experience His forgiveness from Jesus Himself like the woman who was taken in adultery. I want the thrill of coming face to face with our risen Lord as Mary Magdalene did. I want to experience his healing power like the woman who was healed of her issue of blood. My desire is to experience the filling of God’s Holy Spirit like the 120 did on the day of Pentecost. Finally I want to experience his resurrection power like Jairus’ daughter. And my goal as a minister is to be a vessel whereby these wonderful gifts from God can be yours, for you to impart to others.
“These are my goals as a minister of the Gospel; as long as God grants me life here, I will pursue them. When I came here, your dear Chancellor wished me long life here, for which I am grateful. But this life is too painful to love it so much. ‘Jesus, in the days of his earthly life, offered prayers and supplications, with earnest cries and with tears, to him who was able to save him from death; and he was heard because of his devout submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from his sufferings; and, being made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal Salvation.’ ‘And so Jesus, also, to purify the People by his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go out to him ‘outside the camp,’ bearing the same reproaches as he; for here we have no permanent city, but are looking for the City that is to come.’”
She paused, extended her arms and delivered one of the sentences that was the cue to congregation, the Cathedral’s bursar and his men alike for the offering: “Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The offering would have to wait though; she heard one person on her left begin to clap, and turned to see her stand doing it. It was Annette. Darlene followed her, along with the rest of the royal family. Then the rest of the congregation followed suit. The Pentecostals and Charismatics were obvious; they were raising their hands and praising God. Terry wasn’t sure what to do, so she went over and bowed before the King. The royal family responded with a communal hug. She then went a little further left to where the Bishop was standing, she bowed to him but his response was different.
“Go on, Reverend, you have a service to complete,” he said. Leona hugged her, though. Terry then turned around towards the centre of the church only to be faced with Julian, who had slipped out from the organ and gone down the back hallway. They threw their arms around each other, giving another sight that the Church of Serelia had never seen before: a man and a woman, soon to be wed, both in vestments and together during service. Julian then took her by the hand and helped her up the chancel steps and back to the altar where she resumed the service—once the applause died down and everyone was seated again.
The service continued more or less in a normal fashion until just before the actual Communion. The Cathedral was built with the altar set up against the wall; this required the celebrant to pray the communion prayers facing the altar. While kneeling, she prayed the Prayer of Humble Access, after which Julian and the choir went into a very plaintive tune for the Agnus Dei. In the midst of that she, instead of getting up and serving herself communion, bowed before the altar, the only thing separating her face from the floor being her clasped hands. This is something Algernon’s thorough planning was not prepared for. His first thought was to get her up, but he then went over to the altar rail opposite of the organ and whispered to Julian, “What’s the problem with her?’
“Not to worry,” Julian replied matter of factly. “She’ll be all right. Go ahead and start serving; she’ll join you shortly.” Algernon motioned to the ministers he had assembled to proceed with him acting as a “temporary celebrant,” while stationing an acolyte to help her up when she was ready. It wasn’t too terribly long before Terry rose and looked up to see none other than young Bede Gant, whose grandfather was helping Algernon, standing in front of her. He helped her up; she was a little unsteady on her feet but that improved shortly. She wiped her tear-filled eyes with first her surplice and then her handkerchief, noted the additional paten and cup on the altar, served herself communion, and blended in with the other ministers who were in the communion process.
Few Serelian ministers have been happier to see a recessional than her. She found out that one of the advantages of the Serelian system of processing and recessing was that it put her in the narthex at the end of the service, ready to greet the people. This process took a long time; everyone seemed to want to shake her hand and congratulate her. After the ordeal she had gone through to get where she was at, the Serelian people responded positively.
Her usual cheering section was happy: the royal family, Avalon and the Buceks and Prince William and Princess Catherine. But the most memorable greeting came from two men and their wives whom she instantly recognised.
“I was worried when I heard about this,” Vernon Calloway, her old pastor in Barlin said, “but after what I saw today, it’s them that ought to be worried. I’d have run the aisles if they hadn’t been full of people.”
“That’s the price of church growth,” she replied. “How are things in Barlin?”
“I resigned the church last Sunday,” Vernon replied. “I’m going to plant a church in North Verecunda. It’s time we started doing what you preached at Princess Catherine’s baptism: to be a light in the darkness. I see you’re doing it, it’s time for us too—this is Tim Mallen’s last Sunday here, he’s going with me. I wanted someone who could work in a hard place and had a burden for souls.”
“He’s your man than,” Terry agreed.
“Sister Terry, what happened to you before communion?” Tim asked.
“Now I know how Isaiah felt the year King Uzziah died,” she answered. “We’ve all preached about that—now I’ve lived it.”
“Well, Sister Terry, since you’ve had Isaiah’s vision, maybe you have his mission,” Tim said. “‘Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.’ You’ll be in my prayers.”
“You’re headed for a pretty hard-hearted people too,” she answered. “You’ll be in mine.”
“Sister Terry, thanks for visiting Barton Caldwell—I’ve had a burden for him for years,” Tim continued. “I’ve asked my deacon in West Serelia to visit him. One of us will do it.”
“You did something I should have tried a long time ago,” Vernon said.
“What’s that?” Terry asked.
“Putting royalty on the witnessing team,” Vernon replied. “We’ll have to suggest that to the people in the States.” They got a good laugh out of that. They embraced each other and departed.
Terry felt as if she had greeted everyone in Serelia. The narthex finally thinned out. Suddenly Julian appeared before her; they embraced.
“You’re soaking wet,” he said, “and it’s not from the rain either.”
“It was easier facing the Inland Police than going through this,” Terry replied. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you—but we always hear about being ‘before the Lord,’ and today I was there like I’ve never been before. I was overwhelmed by his presence. I had to respond the way I did.”
“You don’t have to apologise,” Julian said. “I don’t always understand some of the things you do, but Prince George was right about you.”
“Prince George?” Terry asked. “What did he say?”
“He said that the religion you have came directly from God.”
Terry looked out into the colonnade, and then turned to Julian. “That’s a challenge to live up to. I pray that I’m up to it.”
“You can do it. You were magnificent today. I’m so proud of you. I can hardly wait to be your husband,” Julian said.
“I can hardly wait to be your wife,” Terry replied. “You know, I just never let myself think about that empty spot in my life until you came along. It’s burnt a hole in me ever since. I’m glad you’re going to fill it.”
“I feel the same way,” Julian responded. “I put on blinders, hoping the pain would go away, ignoring it when it didn’t. But now the pain is over, thanks to you.”
“It is for me too…where is everybody?” Terry asked, looking around the narthex.
“The royal family went back to the palace,” Julian informed her. “The Bishop has disappeared. Algernon’s in the Deanery and his wife is doubtless waiting for you to get out of your vestments. Jasmine came up to me after the postlude and asked if we could come to the restaurant for dinner.”
“I hope you accepted, I’m starved,” Terry said.
“I did.” She went to the Deanery to change and they spent the evening with her family.
The next week and a half were a madhouse, getting ready for the wedding, finalising the plans, making sure everyone was ready. Interspersed with all the preparations were Terry’s new duties at the Cathedral. Algernon was short handed with the demands on him settling in as Dean; he was grateful that Terry was so cooperative in taking services, sometimes at the last minute. All Saint’s Day that year fell on a Wednesday; for some parts of the government, this event was going to be a virtual national holiday.
Julian’s mother and sister did not arrive in Serelia until Monday afternoon. His mother, having heard too much from Desmond, was still sour on the whole idea of his marrying the girl she felt got Desmond ejected from his job. This made for some tense moments between Terry and Candace, and also between Julian and his mother as well. Julian felt obligated to spend time with his mother, which tended to isolate the lovers from each other.
Tuesday afternoon, they held a special Communion service in the evening, with Terry as celebrant and Julian playing, for the benefit of the guests. It was a far more relaxed affair than her first Communion service. Afterwards she got a chance to see some of these; one of them was Pierre des Cieux, who came up from Alemara.
“Raymond still doesn’t believe this has happened, even after Avalon told him,” Pierre told her. “He never thought Bishop Collingswood would allow it.”
“Neither did I,” Terry answered, “but it’s done.”
“It’s for the best,” Pierre asserted, “in my opinion it’s time we faced this issue, along with a lot of others like it. If we had, our church would be a lot further along on this Island than it is now. Think about it: what would have happened if you had been ordained at the Retreat? But I think I figured out why they won’t do it.”
“And why not?” Terry asked.
“Because you look too much like an angel up there,” Pierre slyly replied.
After the service came the rehearsal. The Bishop was in a hurry to get it done; he had the cooperation of the wedding party, which was both punctual and quick to figure out what needed to be done. After this they held the rehearsal dinner in the parish hall. After this Julian went back to be with his relatives, leaving Terry to go about and mingle with the other guests.
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