Yesterday at 5:38 AM ·
What started out as an innocent night changing lightbulbs in the cathedral turned into somewhat of an adventure when the lift malfunctioned leaving our young priest Father Wes Jagoe stranded 35 feet in the air hovering above a larger than life crucifix.
I couldnt fix the machine on the ground, then after 45 minutes or so called the company and explained the situation who were able to roust up a technician at that late hour who got to us about an hour and half later.
He worked on it for an hour or more to no avail, the only option then was to call the fire dept...meanwhile FatherWes livestreamed the entire event on Facebook from
atop the stalled lift, and even conducted a full Anglican prayer service from 35 feet in the air while dangling above the crucifix.
The Tallahassee Fire Dept arrived and we discussed many options.
The unknown dangers of the potential tipping hazard of the machine ruled out many possibilities. Several more first responders showed up. It was eventually determined that as the best option he would be lowered by rope. A rigging system was devised—ropes , caribiners, various rings, pulleys were all sent up to Wes (thankfully earlier in the evening we had the foresight to include a rope in the lift basket to send up any necessary tools and supplies.
Instructed by Luther a very well trained member of the department Fr. Wes was able to weave different ropes and pulleys through strategic points at various places in the truss work of the cathedral . That was no small task , as anyone who has ever tried to hurl a rope may know, but it was finally accomplished and tied off with an
amazing series of knots that no doubt could be attributed to Wes’ marine training..
The unknown factor then became the strength of the specific elements of the truss work that had been looped through....would they hold the weight? were they decorative or structural? I dug up a set of blueprints but it was impossible to tell definitively the weight bearing capacity of the elements which had been looped with the rope. Now being close to 2am we called one of the original architects of the building who made a beeline directly to the cathedral.
After deliberating and doing some calculations, she determined that yes the truss points would hold his weight...
Finally , after all that, with an amazing series of various ropes, knots that would make any sailor proud , ingeniously placed pullies, the efforts of 3 fire companies, the cathedral architect, the cathedral administrator, the lift company technician, and myself I watched as our priest was lowered by rope and harness from
the cathedral tower, descending within a few feet of a larger than life Christ before lightly touching down.
It was quite a sight to see a priest bellaying down from a cathedral ceiling like that, one that Ive certainly never thought id see, or likely will ever see again.
Surreal is a word that comes to mind...
that lies somewhere between “did I really just see that? and #floridaman.
Just another day of cathedral life.Its always an adventure, even just changing lightbulbs.
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