Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Coming Home

Coming home from a place where you have been surrounded by a deep sense of spirituality is always difficult.  There is a feeling of coming down from the mountain.  Taize was a challenging place in many ways. Yet it is also a place of high ideals and goals - somewhere that attempts to allow people  dialogue and give people a sense of their value in the most real sense; not their academic or material value, but their infinite value in the sight of God. The four thousand young people present there each week in August are evidence of the thirst for this truth amidst the often parched shores of Europe.

The brothers in the Taize community are made up of various Christian denominations, including Catholic, and are also truly international as well as inspirational.  The Vatican fully supports the work of the community and their close relationship goes back to the Papacy of John XIII. John Paul II visited and said mass there while the prior of the community meets with Pope Benedict every year. While I was there two Catholic Bishops stayed for a number of days and it was lovely to have mass said for the Assumption by a lovely French Bishop on Saturday, The Taize community does not ignore differences between denominations but brings us together in a united love of God and what it is to be human.  It brings us together to show there can be at least one place on earth where we can accept unification and dialogue.

It does this mostly through prayer- drawing those four thousand young people in to the church of reconciliation each day to pray through the unique Taize chant three times a day. It is humbling to see all these people drawn into the daily rhythm of very beautiful prayer. The rest of the day you work to contribute in some way to the daily running of the community- helping to cook, clean etc. and you are also involved in a group discussion led by a brother followed by small group meetings which offers the opportunity to share ideas with people from different cultures and denominations.  The discussion groups strongly echo Catholic social teaching and often the notes site encyclicals. There is also plenty of time for some solitary reflection.

In many ways it was not an easy week and I found myself challenged and confronted with many ideas.  Yet coming back I feel renewed. What I take with me most is the deep prayer I entered into amidst the Taize chants and readings.  The repetition of simple phrases and the meditation upon these was enlightening in the most simple of ways. It is simplicity that I also keep with me from Tiaze; living in unity with those who have less and stripping away the superficiality our society imposes so that all that remains is time with God.  I couldn't even charge my mobile phone and it was really good for me to be in this situation.  As Brother Roger lived his life he moved gradually from his own Luthran background towards a deep unity with the Catholic faith.  He was a man of true peace and beauty- unfortunately this beauty was too difficult for a woman who suffered chronic mental illness to cope with and on the 26th of August 2005 he was murdered at evening prayer- of course she was not responsible for what she did. His community was heartbroken yet their ultimate answer has been peace and compassion. I hope to share a little more of what I learnt over the coming weeks.

As for me, its A Level results day tomorrow so I will be in school (hopefully) celebrating with my students.  


GrandmaK said...

I think the hardest thing after being "on the mountain" is to adjust to what it is like to live again in the community I inhabit without losing the zeal I gained while there. I pray for your continued zeal and enthusiasm and I know your student will reap the benefits! God Bless YOU!!! Cathy

SQUELLY said...

You are so very right! Its trying to keep the lessons that we have learned alive in ourselves and apply them in the reality of life and not just the safety of theory.

Thank you so very much for your prayers - they truly are a gift and I will be in much need of that enthusiasm in the coming weeks.

Blessings and thanks!

Anne said...

Squelly, this was great! I am so glad you enjoyed your time and also that you were challenged. I have been learning a lot about Taize' and really enjoy the chants, they are gorgeous! Have you seen the blog "La Vie Graphite"? He is very involved with Taize' and writes about it frequently. Check it out!

~Joseph the Worker said...

Welcome back!

Andrea said...

It is definitely difficult for me to come down of the mountain and back into the world of reality. Hope you have a wonderful day at school tomorrow.
Blessings, andrea

Monica Crumley said...

What an awesome experience that you can share with others. I'm in need of a spiritual retreat again... it's been a couple years since before John Michael was born. I think the last thing I attended was a Divine Mercy conference. Thanks for sharing and also for commenting on my blog. It's nice to have a Catholic sister across the pond :-)

Veritas said...

Very interesting to read all about your stay - it's sad what happened to Brother Roger but consoling to know that his spirit lives on in this vobrant community.
Hope you are indeed celebrating with your students, after all the hard work it's the least you can do!

SQUELLY said...

Thanks everyone! Its so good to be back!

Anne - thank you! I will pop over and check out that blog - sounds great!

Thanks Joseph and Andrea! My students done good and I am so proud of them and the way they behaved today

Monica - I love Divine Mercy! - I hope you get a chance for just a little break soon - you write such a lovely blog!

SQUELLY said...

Ann - thank you! I am just so happy that they have what they need and they are happy. Brother Roger's message of peace certainly remains strong in his community.

Anne said...

Squelly, I put a link to your post in my post today. I hope you don't mind!

SQUELLY said...

I am delighted! Thank you!


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