Abbey Church HDR, originally uploaded by Captain Tenneal
We were seated for morning prayer (or Lauds, if you want to get fancy) in the center right of the choir stalls. Our monk showed us what order to read from the books laid out in front of us, and then we were on our own. Luckily I had read a brochure on Navigating the Liturgy while I waited, which helped me to put a framework around the proceedings.
One of the warnings in the brochure was, "the pace of recitation at Saint John's is fairly slow and deliberate. Please listen to and follow the pace set by the monks. Guests sometimes tend to go faster than the monks." Good advice! I was careful not to jump ahead, and enjoyed the unhurried tempo of the readings.
After each reading there was also a long pause (I later learned that these 1 to 2 minute breaks were inserted for reflection on what had just been said). The first time it happened, I panicked a little. "Am I missing something? What's going on?" Soon I had adjusted to the pace and was able to relax into the silence.