Last things: How Evensong has holpen

Sunday 27th was the last St Leonard’s Evensong in the current version of this life. In August, churches join together and we become itinerant Evensongers – St Leonard’s is on the Sunday of Greenbelt, so I’ll miss it; and 7th September is an evening Eucharist. I only figured that one out during the course of Sunday afternoon so it didn’t really sink in until I was there.

There will be other Evensongs, of course. But it was at St Leonard’s that I first learnt the service, first discovered it as a wonderful, peaceful, week-punctuating way of worshipping. Hiding at the back with tears streaming the first few times I was there. Picking a seat where I could leave if I needed to. Learning the phrases, the words that have been said by so many for so long. Finding a little oasis of calm before Monday morning loomed large. Finding myself one of the regulars, then a sidesperson or reader – becoming part of the crowd rather than the one on the edge who arrived at 6.28 and was gone by 7.33pm. Now, if I’m anywhere near Viv, it’s quite likely I won’t get through the service without finding something funny and all those tiny jokes are terribly hard to leave behind. (The Doctor Who collect, for example “…and that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments…” or the prayer to say thank you for beer “…we bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life…”)

Of course with Evensong there has been the PEP tradition – post-Evensong pint. For two years or so with my friend Andrew, losing to him at backgammon in the Odd One Out and trying to make sense of our slightly wobbly lives. And for the past few years with Teresa, lurking in the corner of the Hospital Arms and putting the world to rights. ‘Going to the pub’ as an occupation is not about to stop any time soon, I hope.

I think on the whole I am glad the ‘last Evensong’ arrived fairly early on in the proceedings, because I have a chance to let it go, be thankful and move on to the next last thing. They’re a bit spaced out, which in a way is nice, as I can tackle them one at a time. I’ve been pondering the last Evensong all week – given it its due place in the Letting Go process.

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