We had decided that we would commit ourselves to morning prayer/Eucharist at 8:15 each morning followed by a picnic breakfast in the car and then on to the adults' Bible introduction at 10am.
The brother who was leading it, brother Pedro, introduced the theme for the week - Isaiah. I remembered how an ex-colleague had complained how often Isaiah was read in the liturgy and I wondered if I would be fed up with it by the end of the week...What a silly idea, each time I have been to the Bible introduction I have always found new insights and helps along my journey!
The trouble is I am getting older (significant birthday in October!), and sitting what turned out to be almost 4 hours a day on a bench for the Bible introductions and the worship in the church did my back no good at all! By the end of the week I had chronic back ache which I found made me grumpy. But then on Good Friday I spent some time thinking about the pain and suffering of Jesus. The whole process of crucifixion is excruciating especially on the back, as the whole weight is taken on the wrists and feet. The trouble is that it is difficult to fill the lungs with air and the only way to do it is to push up on the nail going through the feet. That rather put my bad back into context...
As always when visiting Taize there are some surprises, those "chance" meetings - and there were 2 this time.
On Palm Sunday morning on the car park we met a delightful English couple who were staying in their caravan and commuting in as we were for the Bible study and worship. As the week went by we found ourselves walking the way together and they were such an encouragement to us both...
Then on the Saturday evening I broke the rules...In the church there is supposed to be silence...but we were there very early before the evening service as a new brother was being made a member of the brothers' community and we knew it would be very full.
The promises made are that of a typical monastic community - poverty, chastity and obedience, but they are couched in different ways emphasising the interdependence of the brothers and their faith together in God.
Anyway, as I sat waiting for the beginning of the service and praying a bit and watching people a lady came and sat next to me and wished me "Bonsoir." I responded and she asked if I was French. I explained I was English but lived here and ran a b and b. She took a sharp intake of breathe. She explained that she and her husband and 2 teen-aged children lived in Frankfurt and were staying in the family accommodation in Taize. However, that very day they had realised that because of the age of the children next year they would no longer be able to use the same facilities and would need to look for somewhere in the area to stay. We introduced ourselves properly and I gave her one of our cards. She was so delightful and I hope that she will get into contact with us. Each encounter brings a little more encouragement.