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Living the Gospel Together at Taize

The Rev. Rita Powell
August 23, 2018

Living the Gospel Together at Taizé


Earlier this month, I went to the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris and met 14 Trinity pilgrims: 4 youth mentors and 10 youth.  Everyone fought off their jet lag with a day of Paris adventuring, a lovely dinner together, and then, Sunday morning, we trooped through the quiet morning streets, our bags rumbling on cobblestones to the Gare de Lyon.  After rides on a train and a bus, we arrived in the tiny village perched atop a ridge that is Taizé. 


A jumble of old brick buildings with red tiled roofs cling to the sides of the hill.  We could see rolling fields, clusters of woods, and other ridges rising off in each direction.  The contrasts between the wide-open space, the small-ness of the village, and the jumbled mayhem of 4,000 other people in various stages of arrival were vast!  I felt drawn in both directions at once—the sense of expanse and space and gentle summer countryside made me want to take a deep breath of serene pleasure.  The interest and excitement of so many people— all different, all unfamiliar—made me want to draw my focus sharply, to better take in the details of sound of speech, clothing, skin and hair and eye colors, shapes and cadences new and familiar. 


And before we knew it, we had dropped our bags, each of us had signed up for a job we’d do each day all week, and we all found ourselves looking for a space just big enough to fit our curled up selves in the big church.  Every day we ate, prayed, went to bible study with a Brother and a small group, then ate, prayed, did some work, ate, prayed.  And all of this in the middle of these two dynamic centers; the thrill of other people, and the spacious peace of the countryside.  The rhythm of the day, after the first day of adjustment, came to fit like a glove—very natural and easy. 


“It doesn’t feel as religious as I was expecting,” said one of the teens at a mid-week check-in.  We laughed, because few of us have ever done as much church stuff in a week!  Three prayers and bible study totals about 6 hours each day of “religion.”  But he was on to something. 


At Taizé, religion doesn’t feel like a put-on garment to mask our real selves, or an external structure that someone else made.  It feels easy and obvious.  It belongs to us.  To be in the world, surrounded by the peace of God’s creation, and intensely absorbed by the curiosity about and love for others who are of and not of your tribe, this is the work of our faith.  It’s easy and simple and clear: try to live together with others in love.  It’s fun!  It’s interesting.  It’s the Gospel. 


To hear more, mark your calendars for the Sunday Forum hour on November 18, when the youth and mentors will be giving a report of their experience. 


À bientôt!


The Rev. Rita T. Powell

Associate Rector


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