After the extreme high of participating in the Women’s March on Washington D.C. and the following roller-coaster week of U.S. news, I could imagine nothing more appealing than a time set apart for meditation and spiritual pilgrimage. For me, the opportunity to travel to Taize, France and from there spend time with the 60+ year old Christian community was a life-giving gift.
It was a cold January winter night, but a strong sense of warmth, welcome, and peace prevailed throughout the evening. We arrived early and were offered a table in a large cafeteria where dozens of young adults had just finished supper and were cleaning up. The groups there seemed to be very international and friendly.
Before 8pm, there was a movement to the main church, pictured above. The music was simple, but the vocal chanting made for a rich, spiritual experience. The lyrics were sung in several languages, but all were contained in a paper-printed booklet with the music so joining in was possible. Mainly guitar-led, at times a strong flute also highlighted sections. Most knelt or sat, with the leaders in the center of the room, facing an alter area. Silence was called for and prevailed in-between singing. We also were able to participate in the candle lighting with all who had gathered. The depth of prayer and understanding of decades of open hearts and hospitality made even our brief visit a pilgrimage and time of spiritual refreshing.
In addition to welcoming pilgrims to their main community, Taize also holds meetings, retreats and conferences all over the world, with one coming up in the U.S., in St. Louis, this year. A “Pilgramage of Trust”, according to the website, “From September 2016 to May 2017, brothers of the Taizé Community, working with with churches of various denominations will be facilitating a “pilgrimage of trust” in the St. Louis area. At a time when fear and violence seem to be gaining the upper hand, the purpose of the pilgrimage is to create a space where people of different backgrounds can come together for prayer and conversation on concrete ways of building trust in our daily lives. This yearlong pilgrimage of trust will culminate in a gathering to be held over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29, 2017.”
For more on the history of Taize and especially more information on the important gathering in St. Louis this coming Memorial Day, please watch the video to the end! If you are interested in more information about the gathering in St. Louis, here is a link to the official website.
For more information on the history of the Taize community, visit the official site here.