Light Within

Trip Start Oct 08, 2009
Trip End Oct 18, 2009

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Where I stayed
The Barracks

Flag of France  , Bourgogne,
Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Altar

Last night I stayed in evening worship until the candles were extinguished by two young people. Today I arrived early to morning service in time to see the candles being lit by one young man. I was one of the last out and the first in. I also was one of the first out at the morning service.

The altar is a jumble of  about a hundred leaning cement blocks with candles within. It's hard for me not to imagine that the candles are symbolic of all of the lights within all of us at Taize and beyond. We each have a light within and we lean, round shouldered on one another.


Although I love the worship three times a day - the amazing singing (the harmonies!) and the time of silence, I must admit that monastic life may not be for me.

Taize is more like Outward Bound than a week in the French countryside. For example, you have the tight living quarters in the barracks, the ladled serving at mealtime on a plastic plate, the one utensil (a spoon), the seats on wooden benches, and the unforgiving cold.

The Bus

I did discover a way out -- there is a bus that cuts through the campus. Today, like several days, I snuck away from morning service and boarded the public bus for one Euro fifty cents. I took the bus until a petite ville beckoned. I hopped off and had an adventure.

I stayed at Taize and led a contemplative life. Yet, if truth be told, I also snuck away, and discovered hidden treasures in the neighboring French countryside. Both kept me going. And the memories will keep me going.
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french_rhubarb on

Ah yes, I remember it well.
Hi, thanks for telling me about your blog. I can relate to your experience, although I didn't go exploring the surrounding area. It is weird the things they expect you to eat with a spoon. I did enjoy having chocolate for breakfast though - it was at Taizé that I discovered how well chocolate went with bread and butter.
How long were you at Taizé for?
How long ago were you there?
Did you visit the Source?

Mary Beth on

I was there for a week from Oct. 8 to 18th, 2009.I did visit The Source on my last day. It had a peaceful and beautiful vibe, like you'd walked into some previous century.
Love your chocolate remark. although we only got that bit of crusty bread for breakfast and the powdered coffee, it WAS good. It was enough (though I LOVE protein for breakfast and GOOD coffee).
a longer article of mine appeared at this United Methodist website.
The singing was the best part of all. German voices were amazing!

french_rhubarb on

I only just discovered your reply! It's a shame travelpod didn't notify me of a reply.

I read your article. I really enjoyed reading about your experience of Taize. I hadn't really considered the concrete squares with the candles in them, leaning on each other as they were. I like your parallel between them and community.

You wrote "While I spent a lot of time alone, I never once, while on my pilgrimage to Taizé, complained in my journal, "I'm so lonely." I was a part of something bigger. I was a part of a communty. That was a good feeling. "

I must admit, the loneliness got to me. I was quite devestated at times, and did find myself racked with sobbing from the lonliness at times. But do you know what? In those times of isolation, I had no one to turn to but God. My soul cried out so fiercely in that desperate loneliness... By the time I reached the end of the week though, that sense of loneliness had changed. I was learning that, when that feeling began rising, that the only antidote was to draw closer to God and to hold fast while the feeling came and went.

So, I found my week at Taize very difficult. But despite that, or becuase of it, also the most spiritually rewarding week of my life. For this reason, I am going back this August to volunteer there for a year. If one week in Taize can be so significant for me, I can only imagine what a year will be like.

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