To start off with my blog, I would like to introduce you to some of my favorite places in the world.
is by far one of my favorite places and actually the one I visited most. I somehow lost counting but I guess I have been there about six times, excluding the three european meetings in Rotterdam and Cadelbosco.
You might have heard about the Taizé Community as some kind of summer camp before, but I will give you a short introduction on the Taizé Community.
It is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Burgundy, France close to Dijon. More than one hundred protestant and catholic brothers from about thirty countries across the world live there. When Brother Roger first arrived in 1940 he bought a house to hide war refugees. He had to leave the country due to the Gestapo in 1942 but came back to France in 1944. By then, the first brothers had joined him to found a protestant and later on ecumenical community (Communauté). Many other Christians followed the brothers and formed what now is one of the world’s most important sites of Christian pilgrimage. Over 100,000 young people from all over the world come to Taizé each year to pray, do Bible studies, meet new people and do communal work. Due to its ecumenical outlook the Taizé Community encourages people to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation.
Those who know me in person can probably tell a thing or two about how passionate I can become when talking about my Taizé experiences. It is one of the places that favored me with the most diverse, stunning, spiritual experiences I have had so far.
A typical day in Taizé starts with a communal prayer in the church of reconciliation, followed by a simple breakfast (tea or hot chocolate, one piece of bread, a piece of butter, two pieces of chocolate) and a bible introduction by one of the brothers. After the bible introduction you meet in small groups to discuss the bible passage and do some sharing about your faith, your life and whatever you like to talk about. Since you usually are in a small group with people from several different countries you usually also get to know not only a lot about different cultures but also many fun games. I have never seen that many playing ice breaker games at the same time. It is no rarity to start playing a game or singing a folksong in a group of six people and end up playing it with 16 or even 60. What follows are church at noon, lunch, another meeting in your small groups to discuss or do work at the community and tea and a snack in the afternoon. The last prayer of the day is the evening prayer after lunch.
If you like to know more about a typical day in Taizé ,including a schedule for the entire day, have a look at the community’s website.
You go to church thrice a day for morning prayer, midday prayer and evening prayer. Yes, I am a religious person. But No, I would never think of going to church this often in my every day life. However, there is something special about the prayers in Taizé. They are different to what one is used to from catholic or protestant worships and masses because they appear to be less formal but more meditative. All you do is sing repetitive songs, listen to small texts and enjoy ten minutes of silence during each prayer. What actually sounds unusual at the first glance has given me a lot of strength throughout the past years. Did you ever just sit down for a while thinking about God, the world and nothing? Although it appears to be an easy thing to do I usually do not take the time to do so on a regular basis when I am at home in Germany. So everytime I am in Taizé I quite enjoy it.
What I also like a lot about Taizé is the fact that everybody is really open-minded. And by everybody – I mean EVERYBODY. Throughout the past six years I have not met a single grumpy or unfriendly person in Taizé. Everybody seems to be interested in meeting new people, learning about their cultures and sharing their views.
I also really enjoy the nature in and around the village. There is a broad variety of paths, rivers, and fields you can walk through if you want to have some time to organize your thoughts as well as to go on a little trip with your newly gained friends.
I am actually not quite sure if this blog post could possibly give you an impression of why I love Taizé. I could spend hours and days writing about my personal experiences in that wonderful little village in France. Pages over pages could be filled with stories about countless interesting people I met, spiritual moments I had during prayer and meditation and memorable moments I have had playing funny games. Unfortunately, this would go too far.