As ever, a mixture of deep seriousness and hysteria.
We ate supper together in the parish centre, then the Dufflepud was despatched to the chapel to watch while a posse of friends prepared a surprise party to celebrate one chorister birthday plus a farewell for the Dufflepud...Birthday cake and balloons, Pass the Parcel, a wildly hilarious game of stick the tail on Dostoevesky (a rabbit rather than a literary giant in this case) and a piggy pinata...Lots of laughter and warmth. Heavens, I am going to miss this group so horribly much. I hope they know how much I love them all, and what their friendship has meant.
My turn on watch was from one to two...space and peace where it was most needed. I love the fact that those young people make it possible for St M's to watch all night long (one even slept outside the church door) where so many churches sustain it only until midnight. There's something very special about going into the church on Good Friday morning to find the altar ablaze with the lights that each person has left as a sign that they have been there, have left their prayers and their love with the Lord in the garden.
We watched the last half hour together, then at 8.00 am I led some short prayers...
"Lord, it is time to leave you now, for soon you will go where we cannot follow..."
The feeling of desolation those words evoke always surprises me with its power...then it's time to take the hammer and break the 12 hour silence with the harsh noise of metal driving into wood. Some younger girls have watched for the first time this year, and find the whole thing strange. They giggle as they hammer, but that's OK too. That's how it must have been:some embarrassed,some indifferent,some hiding discomfort beneath a mask of bravado -while outside, at a safe distance, friends flinched at the sound of every blow.