Wednesday, April 18, 2012

la sainte semaine part 2

The Taize community seemed to have rubber walls in Holy week. Each time we went there we saw more and more buses arriving packed with young people. There was the familiar rumble of suitcase wheels across the tarmac then the bump, bump, bump over the stony tracks towards the accommodation. I didn't envy them camping - it was still cold at night and clear - brrrrrrrr. But their enthusiasm was infectious!
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.
This was a photo taken at the same ceremony of another brother.
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.

Brother Alois
We had 2 Italian families staying with us over the weekend so at breakfast on Easter morning I decorated the table with flowers and a large candle and Easter eggs. Then we all went to Taize to one of the biggest services I have ever been to. The brazier was lit in the church and the enormous Easter Candle was lit and carried through the church. There were so many people present that 150 scouts staying there were on car park duty and there was a big Red Cross post set up outside with an ambulance at the ready in case of sudden illness. There was an overflow tent which seated several hundred in addition to the main church and both were very full. The singing was full of the joy of the resurrection and I really felt that we had spent a valuable if not busy Holy week. At the end of the liturgy, Brother Alois the prior, spoke out the words "Christ is risen!" to which the response is "He is risen indeed!" But it was not just in one language, it was in many,- he had obviously been preparing very carefully and thoroughly! As each language was spoken there was a cheer from those people and it seemed to go on for ages! The only other one that I recognised and remembered was "Le Christ est resussite!" to which the response was"Il est vraiment resussite!" As Brother Alois completed the greeting there was an amazing and resounding round of applause!  - and with renewed hope and joy I joined in!

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