Last summer André, Angela, Vera, Julia, Emilie, Thomas and Arthur went to Taizé to deepen their faith. In this article Thomas, Julia and Emilie share their experiences with us.
I had never been in Taizé before, nor had any idea what to expect. We found a nice spot where we set up our camp after a ten hour drive from Amersfoort. We started the program with the light service, where everyone received a candle which was to be lit towards the end of the service. I have to say that to see a dimly lit church filled with about two thousand candles was a sight I won’t easily forget. To know I would experience it all again in a week was obviously quite exiting. Sunday we had Eucharist after which we had to choose our programs. While Julia and Emilie chose doing the dishes, Arthur and I chose to join the so-called Solidaritée Group, where we were to talk primarily about solidarity between churches, between genders, and between different social classes, on which all we did a workshop at the end of the week.
From Monday to Friday the days looked pretty similar. In the morning after service and breakfast Arthur and I would attend the ten o’clock talk, which would take about forty-five minutes to talk about a certain text chosen for the day, and how we nowadays as Christians could apply the teachings of Jesus to our daily lives. The talk was followed by our study groups where we would sit in groups of ten discussing different questions. What I loved most about was the fact that you could meet all different kinds of Christians, who all had their ownvisions and spiritual priorities in life. For me it was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to all. In the study groups I met an Australian guy about my age, with whom I could talk really well. On all kinds of different moments we could really dig into subjects, and I think it is safe to say we both learned a lot from each other.
After midday service and lunch we had some spare time, which I would often use to visit St. Etienne, also known as the silent garden. It was a park with a pond where you could just wander freely, simply enjoying nature and forgetting time. At two in the afternoon we had the Solidaritée Group after which most times I would attend a media group where we woulddiscuss how to make Taizé more active on social media.
After the evening service there was a possibility to pray with one of the brothers in the church, if you felt the need for it. Mostevenings would be spent at Oyak, the place where the sound of the guitar and the laughter of merry people would rule over the silent among us. Games were played and songs were sung.
That was pretty much what was happening on an average day. Then of course there are the incidental happenings, such as the conversation with frère Alois which I attended. He was filled with love of God, and I can say it was a real pleasure to hear him speak. I also visited the Crypte twice in the morning where you had the possibility to receive wine at the communion, which isn’t custom at the regular service. We also had a chance to talk to brother Sebastiaan who was just glowing with God’s love on his face, just like frere Alois.
Friday evening we had prayer around the cross, which at first was highly overcrowded, so we decided to come back in the late evening to participate in this relieving tradition.
One afternoon we met an English group of people from Portsmouth, who were singing Christian songs. We chose to join them and for quite a long time we just sat there praising God. When we visited the next light service, it was so much more exciting because we could now experience it with our new-made friends. The happening was quite emotional, and I don’t think I’ll be able to forget it, even if I try. After spending the last two nights under the stars, I must say I was happy to be on my way home again, as much fun as it had been. It’s been a real blessing, and I hope to go there again sometime…
Julia and Emilie’s story:
It was too early and too rainy on a Saturday morning in July when we left Amersfoort. The evening before we met the group during a diner to know one another. Of course we knew each other from the church but we hadn’t really met. That changed during the 10-hours drive by car. We came to know many different types of music during the journey. ☺
After evening prayer with candles we felt we were one with nature by experiencing thunder, lightning and lots of rain. On Monday the programme started with beautiful weather and special experiences. We signed up to wash the dishes after breakfast and after lunch. In the afternoons we attended a Bible Study group. We studied the Bible with other youngsters from different countries: Germany, Hungary and Sweden. They all had different religious backgrounds. In our working group there were many Dutch youngsters and I hope that everybody enjoyed our singing Dutch songs during work.
In the evenings it was fun to go to Oyak. There you could buy a drink and something to eat. It’s the place where you could talk to each other or make music. It’s the only place where noise was allowed after ten.