One night, two joys

Last Friday night was a very full and rich night, full of contrasts, but all part of a whole - my life and mission here in Oxford. If there was any sort of theme woven through it was candlelight; plus youth and enthusiasm, though differently expressed.

Photo taken by my friend Carolyn RA
It began with Nightfever at Blackfriars (which I first wrote about six months ago, here), with people from the Catholic chaplaincy and elsewhere. This time I arrived early and helped set up, experiencing the church's transformation and gradual quietening down: then sat down to pray and be still in candlelit darkness with adoration and hushed reverence all around me. The only sounds were the gentle hymns being sung by a small group and muffled footsteps and creaks as people came and went, the hesitant being gently escorted to the front to light candles, while others filled the space with prayer.

Like Peter on Tabor I too found myself saying it is lovely to be here with you... and like Peter I knew I couldn't stay forever... happily, though, because something different but equally good awaited. Back home at 11NG some of our students were preparing a party for Diwali, which one of the organisers described as a festival of light, colour, sweets and joy - all of which we had in abundance! In a room filled with energy, friendship and shimmery, sequined clothes we ate, chatted and - once the music started - produced our finest Bollywood moves, patting dogs, changing lightbulbs and waggling fingers with gusto. The evening ended in the garden, with candles and more noise, enjoyment and colour, as we happily let fireworks and sparklers unleash our inner eight year olds!

So, two different events, each filling me with joy: the quiet joy of sitting in an atmosphere saturated with prayer and stillness, led by young people; the exuberant joy of celebrating life and light with young, high-spirited friends... both joys merging to form one deep sense of blessedness with which to start a new week.