Many of the students have gone, whether on vacations, doing internships or having moved away after graduation. It is strange to see the campus so empty. Matthew (my husband) is one of the two chapel scholars for the summer. Morning Prayer/Eucharist and Evening Prayer are now held in the Red Chapel. It is very different to sit in the red chapel than in the echoing and deeply majestic space at St. Mary’s. No more do the voices of all the students sing out the psalms, no wooden statue of Jesus to space out at during the readings, no vaulted ceiling of dark and seemingly ancient wood. No, the Red Chapel is much simpler.
It’s white walls, simple wooden pews, small wooden cross hanging from the ceiling. There are no stained glass windows, just plain clear ones that look out into God’s green creation and that let the golden evening light filter in ever so beautifully. (Perhaps God’s creation can be a window enough to his glory?) Two icons adorn the walls – one depicts a founder James Lloyd Breck and the other shows missionary bishop Jackson Kemper.
And I remember, as I listen to the few voices saying the psalm together, that perhaps James Lloyd Breck himself worshiped in this very space. In fact, generations of students and people have worshiped there. Built in 1843, the Red Chapel has been a place of worship for few or many people throughout the years and has seen much of history.
Few though we may be, saying evening prayer together – voices echoing in the austere yet holy surroundings, our voices are joined with generations that have gone before us.
– This dawned on me not as some big intense moment, but as a deep resonant truth that needed no trumpets or drama, it just settled somewhere deep and added a certain note to our voices as we continued praying Evening Prayer.
“Now as we come to the setting of the sun and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing thy praises o God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
[canticle from Evening Prayer]