I think the most challenging part of the Good Friday vigil yesterday was going slowly. I thought I was quite good with silence and space. In truth though, I’m more used to services that follow on, bish, bash, bosh. We sometimes leave a period of silence but I wonder how long that actually lasts?
In the first hour, I used Samuel Crossman’s My Song is Love Unknown, originally written in 1664. Sing a verse, accompanied by solo bass dripping with chorus. Read a short reflection. Wait until the next time noted on my sheet. I went for nine minute blocks as well as a three minute Taizé chant at the beginning and end. The blocks included the sung verse and the reflection and the space in between seemed extensive. Time is not something we are good at calibrating internally, especially when under the pressure of leading.
There was another hour, where I sent people out to prayer walk in the area while I made a few preparations in church. When they came back, we did a 12 stop ‘stations of the cross’. For that, I’d produced a video with horn blasts to mark each change and a reading for someone to volunteer to read at each stop. Even at a mere 4.5 minutes, including transition time, that still seemed long. I was a little worried that the longest reading, a page of text, might get hit by the signal to move on but, even there, it turned out there was plenty of space.
I was fascinated to hear that Jane experienced the gaps as ‘quite short’. That’s why sometimes it’s good to stick to a plan rather than relying on perception to judge it – otherwise, our three hour vigil would probably have been done by quarter to one and we would have missed the vital spiritual discipline of waiting.