Monday, July 11, 2011


Compline- night prayers, at the end of the day.

      Last night, I had one of the more unique, powerful experiences I've had in a while. You know, the kind that makes you sit and think, "Did that really just happen to me?". First, let me explain the experience, and then perhaps this entry will make a bit more sense. I saw a flyer in starbucks a while back advertising a "compline" service at a local Episcopalian church each Sunday evening at 9p.m. The flyer said that the service was short, candle lit, and consisted of Gregorian chants and Renaissance Polyphony- neither of which I am that familiar with. I'm always looking for new experiences, and this end-of-the-week- or maybe, should I say, beginning-of-the-week experience appealed to me. I showed up last night to the church with a few minutes to spare (surprise, surprise). With my cup of coffee in hand, I entered through the historic, heavy-laden doors into a dark, musk hallway. It felt as if I had just stepped into some sort of dream- I'm sure this all sounds strange, but it literally felt like I stepped back in time. As I walked towards the main sanctuary, the smell of incense and the candle lit room struck me and automatically silenced my soul. Shortly after entering, I spotted a parishoner in all black, whom I would later find out was one of the soloists. Was I really in Richmond, I thought to myself. It felt as if I was in an age old catacombs somewhere deep in Rome. As I say all of this, I'm thinking to myself- if I actually get any of you to come with me to this service, and you don't feel an estranged feeling as I did, you might think I'm letting you down. Oh well- I'll continue.
I found a seat about halfway down the isle and sat alone. From what I could tell, there were 20-30 others speckled throughout the room. Some were kneeling, some were lying on the floor, others had their heads resting on the pew. The room was silent aside from the occasional creak made when someone shifted in their seat. I took a sip of my coffee and laid my head back to breathe. I took it all in, every bit of it. The singing began shortly after I sat and continued for over fourty minutes. The hymns were beautiful, inspiring, and humbling. It all ended as the choir walked out of the santuary into the courtyard, leaving us with a beautiful diminuendo effect as they slowly faded into the silence. I followed the others' cue to exit after a short time of lingering in the silence. The peacefullness had paralized me as I struggled to hobble away from this experience. I researched it some today and found that the church has made a video, which I've posted. The video doesn't come close to doing the experience justice. Whether you consider Sundays to be the end of your week, or the beginning, this is an amazing way to put to rest the things in the past, and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

1 comment: