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Monday
Sep052011

An Experience at Compline (Sarah Raven, Saint Hilda's '12)

So I cried not only out of an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude, but out of sadness for the people of New Haven unaware that in the midst of all the sirens and cacophony of the city; available to all, is a few minutes of ethereal ecstasy.

It was Sunday evening when I walked into Christ Church, weary from a full day of services, a full day of recitation and participation at various sites around New Haven. I also had a full week of talking, e-mailing, more talking, Facebook posting, and even more talking. I tend to be a rather social person. Suddenly, in that sacred space I was forced to stop talking and to listen.

The candles were ablaze all around the sanctuary, and I sat in nervous silence as the incense rose to the ceiling. Then voices of “angels” burst out into melodic harmonies and descants. It was difficult for me to believe that only four women were singing that evening. The robust sound helped by the natural acoustics of Christ Church would make one believe that an entire choir was singing.

At first my mind was still running on full steam, thinking about the events of the week, and thinking about future plans and events. Somewhere between the Gothic hymns, the flickering candles at the altar, and the smoke from the frankincense dancing around the flames, I found a deep peace. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I realized that this space for meditation and reflection was missing in my life.

Other people do not even have the privilege to take time out of their busy week for such beauty and wonder. So I cried not only out of an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude, but out of sadness for the people of New Haven unaware that in the midst of all the sirens and cacophony of the city; available to all, is a few minutes of ethereal ecstasy.

After it was over I desperately wished to stay in the sanctuary and not to return to the harsh realities of the concrete jungle. Someone had asked me if I was able to “follow” the service. I had not, and I was so very thankful for this fact.

Instead of standing up and sitting down, anticipating sacred invocations, reciting creeds from memory, I was actively engaged in another type of worship. I was a vessel being filled by song, by darkness, and by the still quiet voice of God found in smoke, in fire, in music, and in silence.

Reader Comments (1)

Sarah, welcome to the etheral wonder of God's presence in light and song--I too have felt those tears streaming down my face, and "following the service" was oh so secondary to the utter peace of being wrapped in God's loving arms -- and yes it difficult to leave and face the cacaphony again but oh what sweetness awaits the return.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarla

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