Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Whenever people ask me innocently, "what was Taizé like?" - I usually have to take a deep breath and "take off my shoes" for I am walking on holy ground.

The Taizé community is an Ecumenical community in the south Burgundy region of France that radically believes that through trust, peace, and reconciliation, change can come about through our young people. I joined a week with only 800 people (700 youth, 100 adults), although it can grown up to 5,000 during one week. Led by around 100 protestant and Catholic brothers, the community exists by living simply with a common life of prayer (three times per day), scripture study with reflection and work.

You can click here to watch a short 11-minute video.

The shape of our days included waking up, prayer, breakfast, scripture study led by one of the brothers, quiet reflection, noonday prayer, lunch, chanting lessons, small group discussion, leisure time (patisserie in a nearby village!), dinner, evening prayer and sleep (dorm-style, 6 to a room).

I recall the small group in which I participated: E. from Holland (Lutheran Pastor), B. from Norway (Priest in the Church of Norway), E. and I. from Norway, M. from Hong Kong, A. from the UK, H. from Germany, K. from Sweden and me, from US. In our international circle we experienced a passion and an intensity while sharing scripture in light of our cultural tradition and our personal experience in light of it the day's message.

I easily recall the sacred space and the beautiful church - windows wide open, birds flying about, bells ringing loudly while we all find a place on the floor in silence.

How can one describe what it's like to share 15 minutes of silence with 700 other people?
How can one share the sensation of African-singing-body-prayer-in-four-voices led by a diminutive
Italian young adult?
How can one re-glimpse the spiritual velocity formed by hundreds of young adults moving en-mass towards the cross on their knees?

As for me, I usually quote Robert Benchley who said, "Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing."

My Taizé experience was unforgettable and indescribable and filled with the Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

  1. I was at Taizé two weeks ago. I agree that it is hard to sum up. I found it at times quite challenging—prayer service three times a day, communal living with strangers (4,000 the week I attended), reflection and contemplation are not exactly a picnic! Yet the golden moments of total peace that would occur while silently praying in the village's small church, the bonds with people realized by week's end, the gorgeous sound of a song sung in tagalog ... yes, whee!