Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Time away

It seems like I have been away from the REAL WORLD for rather a long time.

September starts tomorrow and it feels like only a blink away it was June.

The summer has been full of youth holidays and summer clubs and all sorts of wonderful things but, as today, I have come back to the real world to discover that while I have been having fun, workign with young people (often both of those at the same time!), listening to Christian talks and seminars, leading worship, attending worship, listening to bands, praying, studying the bible, or generally chilling, the world has continued with its joys and sorrows.

This weekend I've been away at Greenbelt and been totally unaware of the terrible news from the States that has been around the last few days. However today on the news I heard it for the first time along with news of the shocking deaths at the religious ceremonies in Iraq.

I had known that there was some news about the hurricane but I hadn't realised how much greater the impact was than previous hurricanes until on Radio 4 this afternoon I heard of the extent of the rescue operation.

As I was about to blog about it this evening, I received a nudge from a friend (I think!) suggesting that my sympathies for the Americans weren't as evident as my sympathies had been for the people affected by the Tsunami and that I wasn't yet clamouring for greater relief aid from the rest of the world, as I had been from America in December.

In response:

Yes of course I think the world should be right in there helping. Yes it is a shocking tragedy and even though the figures are thousands not tens of thousands the impact on individuals is no less. My prayers go out to all those affected especially those bereft at the loss off their homes or by bereavement. However there is an important difference between the two events. The countries affected by the Tsunami of December 2004 had barely no resources of their own, and in some cases, large areas of the country as a whole were affected. In the current situation the country, the USA, has vast resources and the area affected is not a geographical majority.

Nevertheless, there is a way you can help. The American Red Cross is seeking donations here.

Spirituality of bloggers and blogging

Up a little bit later than usual and was about to type up my notes from Andrew Jones' excellent seminar on the Spirituality of Blogging at Greenbelt but Phil has beaten me to it so have a look at his notes.

[update: Andrew has now put his own notes up too.]

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Greenbelt does seem to be the place for bloggers. Unfortunately the sessions were not too wel connected and there were, confusingly two panels on it!

I was pleased to go to the blogging panel (picture forthcoming) featuring Dave Walker. He was there doing an excellent job of trying not to be a celebrity. His humility about it all really is awesome. Well done!

At the blogging panel somebody asked "Aren't all bloggers esentially arrogant?"

Quick answer: Yes. Aren't all PEOPLE essentially arrogant? Certainly all writers must be at least a little.

Much deeper insights into blogging however from Andrew Jones at the Spirituality of blogging seminar. Ian has made reference to a great blog introduction but the highlight of a session for me was the encapsulation of what I feel blogging is for and why we do it. Andrew said some great things which I will type up more fully anon but the bit that really fired me was fantastically something he cited from Athanasius (a 4th century writer I had to read when I was at uni!)

"Let us each one note and write down our actions and the impulses of our soul as though we were going to relate them to each other. And be assured that if we should be utterly ashamed to have them known, we shall abstain from sin and harbour no base thoughts in our mind. For who wishes to be seen while sinning? or who will not rather lie after the commission of a sin, through the wish to escape notice? As then while we are looking at one another, we would not commit carnal sin, so if we record our thoughts as though about to tell them to one another, we shall the more easily keep ourselves free from vile thoughts through shame lest they should be known. Wherefore let that which is written be to us in place of the eyes of our fellow hermits, that blushing as much to write as if we had been caught, we may never think of what is unseemly. Thus fashioning ourselves we shall be able to keep the body in subjection, to please the Lord, and to trample on the devices of the enemy."
That says it all for why I blog and how I decide what to blog. Not only does blogging help me reflect personally and theological but it helps me think about how my own actions might be seen by others. If that is "arrogance" as the person suggested then I hold my hand up to it. I am arrogant.

The other blog highlight was being allowed to infiltrate the wibmeet (by the cunning introduction of some tiffin as a bribe!) and put a few faces to some blogs. Unfortunatley (as well as tiffin, some excellent flapjack and all kinds of nibbles) there was also rather a lot of wine at the wibmeet so my memory is a little bit hazy about every person and their blog. I'm sure Dave will post a full summary of those in attendance!

Greenbelt blogroll as far as I could match people up to blogs as follows:

Amanda, Andrew Jones, Barky, Dave K, Dave W, Ian, Jonny Baker, Kester Brewin, KT, Maggi Dawn, Mark, Neil, Phil, Rach, Richard Passmore, Steve, Tessa,

Didn't get a chance to speak to all of them, unfortunately but it was great to put a face to a blog. Also missed a few I'm sure. Sorry if I met you and I've missed you off the list. Comment and I'll amend it!

I'll try and get some pictures up soon but I need to find the cable to connect the laptop and the camera. Must be here somewhere. Probably under the heap of stuff I've unpacked from the car!

In the meantime, have a look at everyone else's pictures on the Greenbelt site.

Not so dirty weekend

Just back from Greenbelt, having stopped off firstly to drop Elisabeth home and then made a slight detour to see Kathryn (and have a shower - WONDERFUL! Wet wipes can do a lot but not enough after four days!) as we've both been busy doing youthy holiday type things for weeks and missed each other. Ok so the "quick pop in" turned into three hours so a short posting before I head off to a Sinatra night with some Wycombe people.

Greenbelt was just superb.

The company was wonderful. So good to get to know good friends even better, to meet new people and catch up with some who I've not had time with in a while.

Most Random moment: meeting Steve who was on a committee with me when I was 17/18 and I haven't seen since! Great to catch up with him a bit and hoping he'll get in touch with me.

Highlights for me (aside from the people who were the best thing :oD ) were DaveTomlinson on Running into God (must buy that book!), the Reduced Shakespeare Company, The Works (a really chilled Jazz quartet), Milton Jones (so funny at times it was painful!), the Ska style Eucharist (more on that soon I hope!) and the Marvin Gaye Eucharist (based on the album What's going on?) so chilled and really prayerful.

However I think best of all has to be the Sunday morning Eucharist. Everyone was sitting on the hillside with nature's reredos in the form of a FABULOUS blue sky with fluffy clouds in the style of the feeding of the five thousand. Everyone was encouraged to bring bread and wine and their picnic and, although I was a little nervous at first that it wouldn't feel right as a Eucharist, it turned out to be one of the most connecting, community building and Christ-centred celebrations of Holy Communion I have ever attended.

There was a real blogging theme to Greenbelt for me (and to parts of the programme!) so there'll be a separate post on that soon too.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Greenbelt bound

OK just about finished the packing and no I haven't tweaked the time on here. Some delays as a result of going out for a LOVELY dinner with a friend and then making tiffin for the wibmeet and muffins for, well just for eating really!. Also I was chatting to Phil for ages about what each of us was taking (and him, travelling by coach, begging me to bring a spare of pretty much everything as I'm driving there!)

I'm still failing to reprogramme my brain out of thinking that I have to be able to pack EVERYTHING I need in my rucksack and have gone slightly too far the other way now I think so may JUST have overpacked! Ah well. It will all be fun. Greenbelt YAY!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Stress test

trying to get back into the mode of working normally but the anticipation of Greenbelt is JUST too much and today I need to organise things for that but am feeling a touch stressed because it means I'm not doing things I could be doing for work.

Fortunately I've found a fabulous gauge for how stressed you're feeling! Check it out.

It helps relieve the stress for sure!

Kicking music

A few days ago I posted about the post residential blues and updated my wishlist somewhat nostalgically with the music we'd been listening to with the young people during the week.

Wel today I received through the post two albums which a blog readers kindly bought me to cheer me up. That was so kind. Thank you!

So I am currently listening to Kaiser Chiefs, Emploment and Killers, Hot Fuss. Not new I know but great!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Spammity Spam

Ok so I have been getting a STACK of complimentary spam comments recently. It's really mean because you read as someone tells you how they "Love your blog" which is "really well written" and how they will "definitely bookmark" you and it's actually just some rubbish device to get a link on your site.


So I'm going to have to amend the way comments work on here. There is one of those clever word recognition things so I hope that should sort things out. (Badger, you could perhaps test this theory!)

So I was all ready for a HUGE rant about Spam but in searching for an appropriate picture from the Monty Python sketch I found the ENTIRE sketch translated into Italian and this made me giggle so much that my rant dissolved entirely.

So for your delectation and delight I give you the sketch in full. Enjoy!

La scena: in un bar un tavolo è occupato da un gruppo di vichinghi con i loro elmi cornuti (già da qui si capisce lo spirito dei Monty Python..;-)). Un uomo (Eric Idle) e sua moglie (Graham Chapman) entrano nel locale e vengono accolti dalla cameriera (Terry Jones).

Uomo: Siedi qui, cara.
Moglie: Va bene.
Uomo: Buongiorno!
Cameriera: Buongiorno!
Uomo: Bene, cosa avete?
Cameriera: Beh, abbiamo uova e pancetta; uova salsiccia e pancetta; uova e spam; uova pancetta e spam; uova pancetta salsiccia e spam; spam pancetta salsiccia e spam; spam uova spam spam pancetta e spam; spam salsiccia spam spam pancetta spam pomodoro e spam;
Vichinghi (iniziano a cantare): Spam spam spam spam...
Cameriera: ...spam spam spam uova e spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam fagioli abbrustoliti spam spam spam...
Vichinghi (cantando sempre più in coro): Spam! Stupendo spam! Bellissimo spam!
Cameriera: ...o Aragosta Termidoro alla Crevette con salsa servita alla Provenzale con scalogno e melanzane guarnite con pate' di tartufo, brandy e con uova fritte e spam.
Moglie: Avete nulla senza spam?
Cameriera: Beh, abbiamo spam uova salsiccia e spam, dove non c'e' molto spam.
Moglie: Non voglio AFFATTO lo spam!
Uomo: Perche' non prendi uova pancetta spam e salsiccia?
Moglie: Perche' dentro C'E' LO SPAM!
Uomo: Non c'e' molto spam come in spam uova salsiccia e spam, vero?
Vichinghi (cantando): Spam spam spam spam... (aumenta il tono della canzone...)
Moglie: Potreste fare uova pancetta spam e salsiccia senza metterci lo spam?
Cameriera: Urgghh!
Moglie: Che significa 'Urgghh'? Non mi piace lo spam!
Vichinghi (cantando sempre piu' forte): Stupendo spam! Bellissimo spam!
Cameriera: Silenzio!
Vichinghi: Stupendo spam! Meraviglioso spam!
Cameriera: SILENZIO! (I vighinghi smettono) Vichinghi del cavolo... Non potete avere uova pancetta spam e salsiccia senza spam.
Uomo: Sshh, cara, non fare trambusto. Mangerò io il tuo spam. Lo adoro! Io prendo spam spam spam spam spam spam spam fagioli abbrustoliti spam spam spam e spam!
Vichinghi (ricominciano a cantare...): Spam spam spam spam. Stupendo spam! Bellissimo spam!
Cameriera: Silenzio!! I fagioli abbrustoliti sono finiti.
Uomo: Beh, potrei avere dello spam al posto dei fagioli abbrustoliti?
Cameriera: Intende dire spam spam spam spam spam spam... (i vichinghi ormai sovrastano le altre voci con la loro canzone)
Vichinghi: (cantando in modo sempre più elaborato...) Spam spam spam spam. Stupendo spam! Magnifico spam! Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam. Stupendo spam! Stupendo spam! Stupendo spam! Stupendo spam! Stupendo spam! Spam spam spam spam!

New term approaches!

Great NEW resources from Cartoon Church.

A worksheet on BEGINNINGS and a worksheet for HARVEST.

Please make sure you head on over there and BUY A LICENCE to use these excellent sheets.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Back to St Mary's

I was back in St Mary's Somerstown this evening where I spent a night earlier in the year helping at a homeless shelter.

This evening it was for a memorial service for Brother Roger.

The service was incredibly moving. Fr Rob Wickham invited us all to share memories of Br Roger and our time at Taize.

The first man to stand up shared with us a poem that he had written a few years ago reflecting how one day "the coach would come for Br Roger". It sounds a little cheesy but it was a lovely idea that the way so many of us leave Taize each year was used as a metaphor for Roger's passing to the next world. This set the bar rather high for the type of thing people would share with everyone and a certain hush did settle over the church. Being contrary, as I often am, I considered this therefore a good time to share my rather pathetic reflection - I mean if it's going to seem pathetic, it may as well seem pathetic after something REALLY good!

So I told the assembled company how a group of us had been to Taize only three weeks before, how we had seen Roger clearly older and more frail and yet still smiling, still warm and still incredibly inspiring. I seemed to make at least three of our group cry which on reflection might be a good thing. Not sure! Yet for me this was not the high point. It was wonderful to see one of the young people stand up and share what Taize means to her.

For her Taize and all that Roger stood for was a place of meeting, of building friendships and of strengthening bonds between people. Not only was I ever so proud that one of them stood up but I was so proud that she said something so profound. It was also pretty much just what I needed to hear and really helped me settle something which has been keeping me awake the last few nights. The service this evening proved her point. We were there with people we had met this year and over the years, from Osford, from London and from as far affield as Chester. Even this evening a new link was made between two people from different towns origninally but now going to the same University city.

Someone observed that Taize doesn't do anything extraordinary or clever. It is merely a simple place where a group of people pray together three times a day. "Noting special happens here" one of the brothers observed apparently. Yet is in that simplicity that the complexities of life are lost and brought to meaninglessness. It is in that simplicity that people can meet without the stuff of life getting in the way and meet therefore in an open way which lays firm foundations for deep friendships and more.

Brother Roger established a simple community with a simple mission of love and hospitality. A simple place based on the simplicity of the gospel. A place that allows us to become like little children in our faith; to ask the stupid questions and seek answers; to sit humbly in silence not babbling on in prayer; to meet with people as they are without pretensions to status or wealth. It is a place which is trully building the kingdom and which sends out small pieces of the kingdom in the form of the young people it brings together.

Taize is not trendy or clever and yet thousands of young people flock there each year and then long to return. What does this say for our youth programming?

Funeral of Brother Roger

I am listening to the funeral service live on radio RCF (Radio Chrétiennes en France)

Click here to connect to the RCF internet audio feed.

After the funeral, it will also be possible to listen to the service over the internet. Click here to go to the audio page.

I was fine until I heard Br John speaking and then I just couldn't hold it in any more.

Then Br Alois and Br John prayed for the forgiveness for the woman who had killed Roger with the words:

We join our prayers with the prayers of Christ on the Cross
Father forgive her for she does not know what she does.

Do-nate or Do nada?

The subject of organ donation is one which is pretty important to me and always has been. I give blood regularly and have carried a donor card since I was first old enough to do so. it is one of those things that struck me as insane that my death could help people and yet those people would remain unhelped unless I did something.

In recent years it has become even more special as my bestest is the recipient of a kidney transplant and without it she would never have become my bestest as she wouldn't be here. It's THAT IMPORTANT.

I heard a report on the radio today about the national register of donors and decided I needed to do more than carry a donor card. There was news of a deceased donor who had helped no less than eleven people. Come on... how difficult can it be to see the benefit of it?

So come on people.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Post residential blues

Feeling glum now mostly because I'm back at home not with the young people on our holiday. Worse still I've noticed that unkymoods has disappeared so my mood pictures have vanished.

Almost finalised my revised plans for Greenbelt now. Camping with Elisabeth from our Taize group and also the best news today is that KT is going to be there to which is fabulous! SO much catcing up to do with people. Lots of friends will be there so hopefully that should chase these blues away.

Just about to add a few million CDs that they were playing to my wishlist on Amazon. I have to say this is the trouble working with young people. They do keep you aware of new things. I used to be happily stuck in the rut of the few bands and singers that I listened to but I've become ever so much more eclectic now.

So wishlist here I come!


A few more blogs (some of people I know) to be added to the blog roll.

Firstly Steve who was in Taize with me a few weeks ago and helped do the music for our Anglican Communion service in the little village church. Didn't know you had one!

Phil put a link to Amanda's blog and via a bit of blog hopping I've found Helen's blog.

Also Ali C switches from one blog to three one focussed on youth, one on children and a third on leadership. Interesting move, Ali!

Also KT updated her blogroll recently which reminded me I hadn't linked to Tessa's blog which is weird but cool!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Copper Top

I put the link up a while ago but never really told people about Copper.

It's a wonderful collection of dream-filled snatches of innocence.

Also good for cheery you up when you're insignificant or lonely or feeling generally down or blue.

A little hope in a sometimes confusing world!

Movie-ing with the times

Ok I don't give in to peer pressure but all the cool kids were doing it so...

Come on though - I'm more fun than Schindler's List! Aren't I?

Take me to your leader


Now don't laugh...

at least I wasn't GHANDI!!

Brother Roger Remembered

Having been out of the loop I haven't been able to post this sooner but apparently there is a service to remember Br Roger in St Mary's Somerstown in London on Tuesday at 7pm. Some of the Oxford Diocese group will be going along to that so if any of you want to join us let me know.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

All Saints Youth Holiday

We had a fantastic week with the young people including a load of great worship sessions thanks to Ian, Nicky, Brenda and Chris, Andy on guitar, and Bruce (a lady) and Johnny doing a sketch. we explored some fairly "easy" questions, not!

Who is God?
Why do we Worship?
How do we communicate with God?
Where is God in my life?
Where do we go from here?

We spent a load of time enjoying the grounds at Cloverley Hall (run by the fantastic team headed up by Alan and Chris - thank you all!) and playing just the odd game or two of Kubb which Ian had brought along with him and was kind enough to leave behind. (Any addicts looking can play Kubb online, apparently but I haven't tried it!)

We also had fun at RAF Cosford, at Ironbridge (especially Enguinuity - amazingly cool science museum type place!) and with the not - hovercrafting - because - the - hovercraft - broke session on the go-karts.

Of course we had lows as well as highs, a few disagreements between some of the young people, some young people not happy with me wanting them to play it safe at times and a rather-more- interesting -than- I-would- have-liked first aid moment! Yet the lows were few and the highs were great.

As last year, Taize provided me with several new games and a new song (Penguins, attention!, Penguins saute!) . We also added a new character to G'day Bruce. That "Lobster" will haunt me!!! Oh and we found new ways to make Mafia rather easier than it should be (hehe!).

Hint #1 When you're in the mafia, don't tell other people to "shut your eyes properly"
Hint #2 When you've been found out as being in the mafia don't say "but you and I were both pointing at HIM not at her, won't we X?"

The World bursts in....

Being away for a week did feel both like a lifetime and like the blinking of an eye.

So much happened with the group that was there but in many ways it seems that so much more was happening in the world outside.

I was fortunate that a good friend called me with news on Wednesday that Brother Roger of Taize had been killed in a seemingly insane act of violence during a prayer service at the Taize Community. It was a really sudden burst of the real world into our little community of young people and leaders. I had to sit down for a while and take a few precious minutes out to let the news filter through to me and then settle before I had to carry on with the day. I started thinking that I could just swallow the mix of shock and distress that the news caused me and just get on but I realised I really couldn't do that so I did something that rather surprised me. The young people were assembled to go off site for the day and I told them all the news and explained that I might be a bit less than perky for the day and apologised in advance if I snapped at them. It's only now really, that I'm off duty that I've started to think and feel about it though and I admit I'm a little jealous of a friend who has booked a place on a coach going to Taize for the funeral. However a group of those of us who were there this summer will be going to the memorial service in London.

Br Roger was an inspiring man though it was clear to me this year that he no longer had the energy he had demonstrated even last year when we were there. The fact that Br roger died was no shock. His dying was something I admit I had rather expected at some point over the next few months. I had a feeling that we wouldn't be seeing him next year. In fact, it was when a new brother made his commitment on the Saturday night that we were there that I had a strong feeling that Br Bart would be the last brother that Br Roger would welcome into the community.

However the mode of his death is deeply saddening and distressing. It was only two weeks ago that I was in that spot in the Church of Reconciliation. It was there that I was in charge of keeping the silence. I can picture what might have happened and my heart goes out to the brothers and the young people who would have been present and witness the events. I am also mindful of those who would have been leading groups and responsible for the pastoral care of some very distressed people. This may all sound rather down but in fact I think Br Roger's concern would have been for these people and for the woman responsible. It was that overwhelming love for people and his gentle guidance of those seeking answers to questions that made him the great man that he was and he will always be remembered as such.

My thoughts on it all are ramblings and babbling at the moment really but there are good words about it on the BBC and at Phil's blog.

The other news that burst into the busy times at the youth holiday was another death. Mo Mowlam died after a long illness. She was a woman whom I grew to admire especially for her tenacity and her sense of the ridiculous. I will never forget the story of her taking off her wig and throwing it into the middle of the table during discussions over Northern Ireland. Mo used her own health struggles to help show the men gathered around that discussion table that life was about more than their own agenda.

So perhaps I might be feeling low that two great examples of humanity have died. Yet I'm not especially down about that. These two people did that which I strive to do (but mostly fail, I think) they lived lives wholly committed to doing their best and living out their God given gifts. In dying they did no more or less than any of us will do. Death is part of life as it is for all of us. So, it is for their lives that I will remember them.

Back in Business

Just beginning to get back to normal after returning from our church youth holiday.

So many things to blog about and to catch up on too. It's all going to come out in a rather random selection I'm afraid. Then again, I'm never that orderly so I'm sure you won't mind!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It could be so nice

Off to Shropshire this morning with the young people. Should be great fun though of course I am a little unnerved in case I've forgotten anything vitally important. At least we have the joy (for me at least, ha ha!) of Jonathan Ross's Saturday show on the radio for the mornign as I'm driving the minibus.

Lots of blog-tales when I come back.

God bless


Friday, August 12, 2005

The BEST news

Fabulous news from my friend and colleague that her husband is finally going to be allowed to enter the country after the pair of them have waded through ridiculous levels of red tape and faced despicable prejudice.

Mark will be home with Hazel for Christmas it is just the BESTEST news EVER. :0D

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Taize reflections

Even though I have been fairly busy getting things sorted for the youth holiday (departing Saturday) nevertheless, like others I have been missing being in Taize. I've had less of a culture shock than in previous years as Taize itself seems more normal to me. It really felt very familiar in the classical sense of the word. It was like being home. I'm not saying that home is not my real home but Taize has a certain Bethany quality to it. It is an amazing place of refreshment. When you first go there it is so different from anywhere you have ever been that it takes your breath away. When you become accustomed to being in Taize you realise that actually it is its familiarity as well as its difference that makes it such a place of refreshment.

As I find Taize such an amazing place, I was absolutely astounded to hear of someone, in youth ministry, who thought Taize was a BAD idea. Apparently the criticism levelled by this person (who will remain anonymous for two reasons; I heard it second hand so I shouldn't attribute it and more to the point I can't remember the name!) was that the sessions at Taize are not run by people trained in youth ministry. What the...? I was furious. Of course I am a firm believer in training and professionalism but I was appalled at the arrogance to suggest that the Taize brothers didn't know what they were doing! It's possible that the criticism was levelled not directly at the brothers but at the fact that they allow "mere amateurs" to run the small discussion groups. Well... the small discussion groups are run by... hang on who is it? Oh yes... by the young people themselves. So that would be empowerment then surely? Or perhaps the criticism was directed at those who take the groups of young people to Taize? Those people who, unlike those of us in full-time minsitry, give up their holiday entitlement to spend time with young people and explore faith with them. These are people who have experience of working with young people for years perhaps without official training but with clear dedication. It just worries me that those in "professional" ministry can sometimes consider their certificates and qualifications, or licenses as a license to speak pejoratively of volunteers. Surely our role as full-timers is to inspire MORE volunteers not discourage them?

Sorry I don't rant often but this REALLY upset me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Weebl and Bob

Ok so the humour of these two little eggs is not for everyone but I was reminded of the joys of Weebl and Bob when I was in Taize. Singing of "I am the monkey" was a little bit of light relief after the Taize chants and Rowan's rendition of bubble boy really is rather special! Likewise having a bit of a look through the weebl and bob archives this evening was a bit of a relief from busy times sorting the youth holiday.

Please be warned they are not good clean fun for all the family but they are funny.

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.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"City" of brotherly love

Just back from Taize this morning (extended postings anon no doubt).

I had such a fab time that it all just flew by. We had a wonderful group from the Oxford diocese.

Most notable events for you in brief:

Met a fellow youth work blogger Phil Goodacre who is also a "published author" courtesy of the summer 2005 edition of the Perspectives journal. Sounds like his article is far more worthy than my reflection which was in the previous edition but the summer edition is still on my desk (having arrived there just before I left for Taize and right now I am still enjoying the novelty of the sofa after a week of wooden benches and hard floors!) So, instead, currently I'm perusing the archives on his blog as my coach-wearied brain can't cope with much more than mouse-clicking! (hence I have also caught up with Pete's muppetry, Ian's new car desires and Dave's fab link to Graham Rawle's cartoons.)

In Taize I also met Bishop John Sentamu who is FANTABULOUS FUN. The Church of England is going to get a shake up when he is Archbishop John Ebor. He led an absolutlely wonderful Holy Communion on Saturday night with the Peruvian gloria and Taize chants (including my favourite Jubilate Deo) reverberating around the delightful acoustic of the village church.

I was also put in charge of keeping one section of the church silent during prayers. More on that anon but come ON... me...? ...silence?

Furthermore, I can map out my week in the various items on the menu I dropped on my clothing - hot chocolate (from serving breakfast) on my shoes, Taize tea (from the meeting with Br Paolo) on my dress, jam (from Sunday breakfast) on my 3/4 length trousers - classy!

Also learnt a stack of new games, saw a Taize brother do the Penguin song, laughed so much I embarrassed myself, babbled inanely at all and sundry, made new friends, cemented old acquaintances into friendships and REALLY felt part of one of the world's most vibrant Christian commuities.

Pictures online anon.