review of Rave in the Nave in Ely Cathedral 11th July 2014

Doody the fire juggler

Doody the fire juggler

Rave in the Nave 14 the labyrinth Y

nailing the cross

nailing the cross

Now in my late sixties, I cannot hope to know what it is to be a teenager today, but I can easily empathize with the youngsters as I recall my own days of insecurity and uncertainty at that age.

It was my Birthday and I had nothing special planned, so I thought what better way to spend the evening than by going to the ‘Rave in the Nave’ at Ely Cathedral?  Expecting the centre of the Cathedral to be chock- a- block with heaving bodies, twisting and writhing to ear-blasting bands, I put on my dancing flatties, grabbed my earplugs and set out for an evening with a difference.

It was nothing like I expected. Yes, there was loud music, but the teenagers were not the mindless, body-conscious minions I expected. While there were groups of them ‘hanging about’ as teenagers do, there was none of the one-upmanship, self-conscious introversion, glances over the shoulder to see who was looking to impress. None of them seemed to be seeking a model to copy, to help them shape themselves into the ‘cool’ successful adult they hoped to mimic and become. They were simply themselves, something that I decided was much more courageous and impressive than any of the images we are bombarded with daily by the media. Few had heads bent, fingers flying over phones – none of the stereotype we associate with teenagers was apparent. They were talking, playing games and entering in the spirit of the event with disarming natural charm.

The success of the evening came not only from the music in the nave and the Lady Chapel, but from the numerous activities spread out in the building that engaged us in reflecting about our lives. I am one of those people who is embarrassed by overt expressions of religion, so, on a personal level, I could not relate to banners that declared ‘Jesus lives’, ‘He is my Light’ or ‘Burst Forth in Glorious Day’. However, from the age of sixteen I have often asked just ‘What is this God that people keep talking about?’ and even now conceive that this is a fundamental question that cannot be fully answered, for no one really knows or can claim to know.  It was at this event that I realized this was the whole point of the exercise. Our lives can be enhanced by having faith in the existence of supportive, positive influences, whichever form they take. When I finally completed  walking round the labyrinth and came to the last staging point, I contemplated the definitions offered d and stuck my star on the statement that most closely represented what I thought God could be – love. But then we are led to ask – ‘What is love?’ – but this is for another occasion for the purpose of this article is to tell you what happened. To give you some of the facts: there were a large number of organizations represented, some of those that impressed me were:

Cambridge Youthwork Collective, next meeting from 9000 – 1230 Tuesday 23rd September; ‘Rebuild’ offering a life-changing overseas experience brining hope to families trapped by poverty.;; Traidcraft that fights poverty through trade; Christian Aid; Limitless Community community; Amnesty International Ely City Group; The Salvation Army ‘Essential’; Juggling firesticks, walking on stilts with email:; Christian Motocyclists; The Mother’s Union;; Ely Food Bank amongst numerous others.

What impressed me particularly was the video display prepared by a Youth Worker trainee at Ely Cathedral in which famous people like Steven Spielberg and Einstein were described as early failures who had risen to great heights – there is always hope.

After a free cup of coffee and a chat, I entered into the fray. As I hammered my negative thoughts onto the cross I felt elated and delighted that there were no prohibitive Health and Safety eccentrics telling me I couldn’t have a hammer because I might hurt myself. It was an exhilarating experience to be able to express my thoughts without fear of ridicule or derision and by the proliferation of others’ thoughts and expressions I was not alone in this.

So, if you’ve never been to a ‘Rave in the Nave’ before, no matter what age you are, you should give it a try.








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