29 May 2012

Visiting Taizé

Visiting the community in Taizé has been something I've hoped to do ever since I moved to Europe. After all, considering the difference from Canada to the south of France, Taizé seems just around the corner from the Netherlands (despite it's being 850 km away). Besides that, a number of Oudezijds 100 folk have spent months in Taizé, others have a house only an hour's drive away from Taizé, and there have been stories in the past of our community going there to visit. So I was looking forward to having the chance to go visit Taizé with others from Oudezijds 100.

Despite it taking several years, my dream of visiting Taizé finally came true this past Ascension Day weekend. At 8 a.m. on the Thursday, 30 people were packed into 3 vans and a station wagon, and we arrived in the south of France a bit after 7 that evening. Thankfully a group had gone ahead the day before - so we were greeted not only with dinner but also with all the tents already set up.

Friday morning we headed out to the morning prayer. Those who had been there previously (even 10-20 years ago) found it familiar - the repeated Taizé songs, the long time of silence, the short readings. All of this sitting on the floor of the church in the midst of a few thousand others, primarily teenagers and young adults. It was special simply to be among so many others turning themselves and opening themselves up to God.

As we returned for prayer on Saturday morning and then later for dinner, a talk and evening prayers, it never stopped being special. Taizé is a phenomenon - what Christian doesn't at least know one or two of the songs, even if they don't realize that Taizé is a place in the south of France? And how many have not made the pilgrimage to this community so as to spend a week in prayer, small groups, work tasks and fellowship? Knowing the role this place has had in so many people's lives, it would be difficult to go to Taizé and not be awed - especially considering the ministry (and organisation) that the monks in the community participate in.

And yet, I think I will be more than content to sing my Taizé songs at home. It's not that I feel old or out-of-place in Taizé, it's simply that I feel more at home in traditional monasteries. As for the songs, they feel like the belong in the chapel at Oudezijds 100 - especially when we can sing in harmony. And perhaps that is also the wonder of Taizé - that it is a place to visit and appreciate, and then to go home remembering and participating in the church and communities that are close by.

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