News Detail - Zebra Tales

Revisiting Chapel

From its chilling, haunted aura on foggy evenings to its warm glow during stunning Groton sunsets, St. John’s Chapel has always been a part of my daily routine on the Circle. My usual morning consisted of inhaling my breakfast and then wobbling from the Dining Hall to the chapel (often with a bit of morning grogginess). A speech and several musical interludes later, I would stumble out; I walked out inspired or chuckling from the chapel talks, but oftentimes, my puffy eyes were the only memorable takeaway.
If it isn’t apparent, I am not a morning person. To make it even worse, I am also a person who functions horribly without good sleep. Arriving at Groton, the chapel requirement was my enemy. Much to my surprise, the looming fear of demerits created some of my most vivid Groton memories: touching senior chapel talks that I will never forget, the nerve-wracking but rewarding performing in postludes, and listening to guest speakers’ stories and legacies. 

When I returned to a socially distanced campus this fall, the school launched the new virtual, live-streamed edition of morning chapel. You can imagine my bliss when hearing that I would be able to watch chapel right from bed. Rather than being a burden, chapel became something relaxing to wake up to. As I went to brush my teeth, I would open up my browser and start my day with melodic organ chords.

However, what struck me the most about chapel this term rested in the moments that I actually spent in the building. I stepped into the chapel for the first time this year to play a postlude. My violin in hand, I rose to the words of Chaplain Read’s prayers. As I glanced upwards, the towering glass window began to glow with morning light, rays peeking through each vibrant shard. Accompanied by a moment of majestic silence, I felt a chill and pull in my chest just as colorful shadows fell in front of my feet.

I raised my eyebrows–I’m not religious at all, and this was the first time I had felt anything like this… feeling so stirred during silent reflection.  Being away from the moment of silence after prayer for so long somehow made me experience such raw emotion. For the first time, I allowed myself to appreciate the beauty of that familiar, moving moment of silence; I closed my eyes and even said a few wishes to myself.

As I played the postlude that day, I leaned into the chapel’s enchanting resonance more than usual, soaking in the morning light.