By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
Guest artists Paul Roberts and Jessica Peterson will kick off the 11th year of Sunday Night Unplugged on Sunday evening, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m. (Please note the date change.) Sunday Night Unplugged began in 2009 as an attempt to offer a time and setting for people to reflect, pray and meditate.
“We weren’t entirely sure about the shape of the service when we began, but we thought we would try to design it around the style of the Taizé service, a service begun in France,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “Over the years, it has come into its own. We have tweaked the format here and there over the years, but for the most part, the service of music, meditation, silence, readings and prayers seems to fulfill the need.”
Artists from around the community offer to play for this unique service. They bring not only their musical talent, but their own spiritual gifts to add to the ambiance.
Roberts and Peterson have been regular artists for Sunday Night Unplugged over the years, offering their delicate balance of strings and flute. Roberts is an accomplished musician who owns and plays a wide variety of unusual stringed instruments, flutes and drums. Flutist Peterson is a versatile musician as well, offering her skills not only on the traditional flute, but on Native American flute, Irish flute, ocarina and more. Together, their music brings a beauty and charm that promotes a peaceful listening opportunity.
The decorations add a lovely meditative visual as well. Candles not only bring a soft warmth to the lighting, but also are lit to symbolize individual prayers as participants are moved to do so. The altar is the main focal point and is decorated with beautiful flower arrangements, statues, pottery or even musical instruments, depending on the theme for the service. St. Patrick’s is also known for its beautiful clear glass transept windows that provide a spectacular view of the mountains and the forest.
“The wonderful thing about Sunday Night Unplugged is that it is non-denominational,” said Neel. “People from all over town, regardless of their religious preferences, find that the service is very ‘user -friendly.’ We do read a Psalm, have a short scripture reading as well as a non-scripture reading, and say prayers, but the majority of the time is spent in silence and listening to beautiful music. It is personal time.”
He added, “I can’t tell you how many people have told me how important this time is for them. It offers a time for reflection, a time to get away from the day-to-day routine, a time to sit and be with God. The fact that the service has continued for 11 years and is still well attended says that there is a need for this in our world. I’m happy we can provide that for our community.”
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. The public is invited to attend Sunday Night Unplugged free of charge. For more information, call 731-5801.
By Sally Neel