Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Taize is not a beach

The Oxford Group's visit to Taize this year was so good that all of them said they wanted to come back again next year. This made me think that next year could be THE YEAR for the Oxford Taize group. We have four leaders potentially lined up and several of the young people have friends they are persuading to come. I am also working on bringing more people from our parish. I know some of the older teens would really love it as would some of the young adult crew from Yellow Braces and beyond.

The trouble is, describing Taize is really difficult. The basic description of what happens just doesn't do it; there's a community of brothers and you join them for prayer three times a day, the food is very basic, you camp with 4000 people from across Europe and the world. You hear Bible studies fromt eh brothers then meet in small groups to share reflection. Oh and you have to do some work to keep the commnunity going like serving food, cleaning, helping at the church. Doesn't sound so thrilling. Some young people do come to Taize and fail to "catch what it is we're doing" as Br Paolo put it. Some just se it as a very cheap campsite (some even spending the days sunbathing and avoiding the pogramme - which led to the composition of the song "Taize is not a beach" to the tune of Da Pacem Cordium!)

So how to let people know that Taize really is so much mroe than that?

Well we have a video people can borrow to show to young people. We'll be running some services around the diocese where people can get a taste of Taize (just a taste, you really can't reproduce a service that involves 3000 people from many different cutltures in one big church) when you get a chance to meet with some of the people who have been to Taize before. That really is the way to learn about what Taize is like; to hear it from people who have been.

Phil has done a pretty good job giving a sense of how Taize has a lasting effect. So you could look at what he has to say (most eloquently - amazing what sleep can do! ;oP )

In addition, to give a good idea of what it's about I also include some highlights from the Oxford group's Taize Diary 2005:

Having attended the morning Eucharist, I feel so glad to be back in Taizé. It was great to arrive and se Justin outside the coach. It was fantastic to se Pixie’s lot but really sad that Tom’s the only one staying. Danni and I spent the majority of today chatting to Justin and Pixie. We sadly watched them leave late afternoon after the standard Sunday potato salad. We have persuaded Tom, almost, to move down and camp with us. We also saw Ric and Chris who are staying another week in silence.

Danni and I have opted to sing in the choir this year. It should hopefully be a good new experience. So now it’s off to dinner followed by the evening service.

I’ve just volunteered to dole out chocolate to people at breakfast. It’s a hard old life! Then at Brother John’s Bible talk I was asked to help keep the church silent at evening prayer – the sublime to the ridiculous. Oh and John Sentamu just offered to ordain me when we were having tea with Br Paolo! He was kidding… I think.

It is raining in Taizé at the moment. Most of us are in our tents doing lazy things. I can hear from a tent nearby “did you ever see a penguin come to tea” a game for a group of people having to follow the actions. We have a meeting later with Paolo during dinner time. So far I am enjoying Taizé very much. It can only get better.

Thursday now and I can’t believe there’s only two whole days left. Time flies when you’re having fun I guess. I’ve been enjoying holding the silence/silencio signs outside S2 for the evening service, except for when people take no notice. The weather’s held since Tuesday – it’s now 30 degrees apparently. Bit cloudy though. Kinda tired today – too much avoiding the night guards last night and playing the “Tom” game. We’ve got the regional meeting this afternoon instead of small groups – not entirely sure what it involves but oh well..

The week has gone far too quickly. I wish I could stay for another week. It’s going to be a shock going home to a comfy bed. I’ll miss our late night card games and chats in Tom’s tent. There are some fantastic quotes that will stay with me, mostly from those memorable nights.

My small group this week has been very good. Each person has opened up and shared parts of their lives with the group. It was great to have Deji and Poli who are from India and Bangladesh and are staying at Taizé for three months, in our group. Brother Richard’s bible studies all week on Romans 8 have been inspirational and challenging.

Welcome on the field was my afternoon job with a whole group meeting at 3pm with Br Etienne, Benoit and Marceso. We then split into our smaller groups to walk around our areas. I am with Dennis, Yasmina and Basha in Doula 4 (the tent area between 60 and 74). Each day we encourage people to go to their bible studies on time at 3.30pm. This is the difficult part of the job with different nationalities pretending not to understand English. We have got to know the Swedish girls and Spanish guys very well but they did go to take part in their bible studies and small groups, by the end of the week. At 5pm we have tea in the room about La Morada and another meeting to see if there have been any problems.

The last few hours here! Only four hours till we leave. It has been a very special week. Meeting people from all backgrounds and discussing issues in my small group. It seems such a long time since we arrived because so much ahs happened and at the same time, no time at all. Taizé has become like another home for me and I will definitely be back

I can’t believe it’s time to pack up all ready. I’ve made lots of new friends and haven’t had much time to cement their friendship. I think one time I may stay longer or become a really good pen pal. But I am looking forward to seeing my friends and little scouts but it’s going to be hard to tell them about Taizé without feeling bad.

I can’t believe I haven’t written in the diary yet! Usually I love writing stuff, but I’ve been quite busy and haven’t even had time to write in my own diary which means my memories are already blurry, but I know it has been an amazing week. My small group has been brilliant; people have really opened up and a couple admitted things that must have been really hard to admit. We had some really interesting discussions; we prayed together and had a lot of fun teaching each other songs. Coming back this year was like coming home – Taizé will always have a special place in my heart.

The journey home… The story so far after about an hour’s delay during which we had entertainment from some fellow English who are staying two weeks (so jealous). Eventually we moved off and the games began. The highlight, of course, being Mafia. Much hilarity was had by all.

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