One of my new years’ resolutions for 2015 was to not go to church, at all, zero, this year. Okay. I broke that one twice today. And I promised a friend I’d make an exception for her ordination as well in the summer… I went to Evensong today in one cathedral, and to Compline in another. Without having planned to do either. And I was rather glad to be there, both times…
I decided to not spend Easter Sunday in lots of company but to have space for myself. For some silence, some art. This week has been too emotional, not even including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. And none of it had anything to do with me. I just tend to feel a little too much what is going on around me, and at times it gets overwhelming. Hence – Easter solitude.
I followed my nose and landed at St Paul’s. I arrived a little late but still in time for most of Evensong, at the back of the crowd (I’m here by myself – nobody in this crowd knows me…). For once, what I was looking for in a church was actually what I found. The cathedral seems to be build for Easter, in its beauty – and the sermon spoke to me quite precisely too. It addressed those who “had hoped” – and are left disappointed. It’s for those who need Christ to resurrect their hope. Enough hope. No exuberant abundance of it, just – enough. Enough hope to go back and try again. Just enough to not fall into the darkness of believing that there was no point, no truth in the hope they’d had. Just a little affirmation, a moment of God showing her presence with them where they are, and as they are.
For some reason, I found myself at Southwark Cathedral a while later. I walked around for a bit, and then sat silently. And became still.
Someone lightened candles on the altar. Preparations for Compline. I decided that I might as well stay.
Things seemed less formal there. Those preparing the space and welcoming visitors were friendly and relaxed (if you’ve talked to one of them at St Paul’s, you’ll know that’s not a given…).
Compline was mostly sung in plain chant. Not my thing, really. Especially given the few of us who had gathered in the pews trying to squeak along with voices wholly unsuited to such soprano heights. It didn’t add much to the “atmosphere” that the service booklet invited visitors to enjoy, or to the prayer. It was rather exhausting. So I didn’t sing. I just listened. I liked sitting in silence better.
Now I’m at home, tired, and not generally joyful. But that’s okay, I guess. I’ve had a moment of peace. I’ve had a moment of hope. Just enough.
“…we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…” (Luke 24:21)