“I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what he will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.” Habakkuk 2:1
This verse captures the mood that was set on Friday night, March 21 at the Cathedral. 22 teens from around the diocese and adult volunteers gathered in the nave of the cathedral to set up camp for the night. The youth from St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral (Banker’s Hill) were joined by youth from St. Philip the Apostle (Lemon Grove), St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (North Park), St. Timothy (Temecula), and Good Samaritan (University City). They brought sleeping bags, pajamas, flashlights, and open hearts ready to keep watch and be drawn closer to the mystery of God.
Bishop Mathes welcomed the youth to the Cathedral and observed the first day of spring and the renewal that comes along with it. Mobile phones were turned off and stowed away in the sacristy, games were played, snacks were eaten, and new friends were made. As the evening progressed we gathered into small groups and the youth shared their insights into what it meant to unplug from other friends, family, and their phones on a Friday night.
The conversation on true connections culminated in a curated Eucharist led by Fr. Colin Mathewson. Silence filled the space. The only light in the sanctuary came from a few candles and the singing voices of friends gathered in prayer. Instead of a traditional sermon, the youth were invited to prayer stations. These prayer stations included learning to pray with icons, writing down burdens and burning them ceremonially, being anointed with oil for healing, and imagining a new life through art. Later, Canon Martin Green showed off the beauty of the cathedral organ by playing “Outer Hebrides” by Paul Halley and the Toccata in d-minor (bwv 565) by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The soaring sounds of the organ kept all ears alert but the silence that followed brought drooping eyes and a need for sleep. Teeth were brushed and sleeping bags were spread out down the main aisle. The teens took turns keeping watch through the night. The midnight team quietly woke the 1:00 a.m. team and the 1:00 a.m. team quietly woke the 2:00 a.m. team until all of those who wished to participate had an opportunity to keep watch for an hour of prayerful silence.
Penny Bridges, the dean of the Cathedral, joined us for breakfast and our send off. Nightwatch gave the participants an opportunity to welcome God into the silence of their hearts and to hear God in a new way. It is our hope that the reply to God’s voice will be found in the renewal Bishop Mathes alluded to: Easter.