I am sure I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
This is the diary of a journey that will never have an end. This is the story of a place beyond all the things we know. This is the proof, that magic
And that they are closer than you think.
Good Bye comfort zone
That is how my journey started: with the uncertain feeling of leaving your comfort zone, where everything was light and calm and safe. Once again, I didn´t want to. A village in the nowhere of Bourgogne, France, where being open-minded is demanded 24 hours of the day and forks and knifes, privacy and proper matresses only exist in your imagination? Yes, I´ve been to Taizé before and I did not regret it for one second, but it didn´t seem like the right time. I was still so lost in the grief of losing one of the most important people in my life, and I was so scared to meet my deepest fears in the silence of Taizé. Fortunaly, I didn´t have a choice. My friends and me had booked the trip, and we were going. Thank God we did!
How to be allowed
Arriving in Taizé felt like this: holding your breath for too long and finally being allowed to breathe again. As your lungs fill up with oxygen, you dare to open your eyes and immediately get blinded by the colours.
What a questionable comparison, facing the fact that when our bus from Freiburg finally reached the hill of Taizé, the rain was pouring from the sky and an endless curton of clouds hid the light of dawn. Awesome. And while our suitcases and backpacks got wet within 5 seconds, and while the first meal tasted bad enough to not wanting a second one, I just sat there and felt my pulses calming down. Nobody will ever be able to explain how Taizé has such a physical impact on your body. It literally happens seconds after you arrived. This is how I know it is not the prayers or the conversations. It´s the place. It´s the air. It´s the ubiquitous presence of God. And it is the feeling of being – allowed. Allowed to do whatever you want to do, not in a literal kind of way. Actually your day is packed with things you have to do. Still you´re gonna love every single part of it, because you can be, you are allowed to be – yourself.
Only that I´ve been to Taizé this time, I started to realise what I´ve been missing the last weeks: talking and listening to foreign languages, getting to know new people every five to ten minutes, being honest and so vulnerable in the most respectful way. Talking about the things that really matter, things I wouldn´t dare to speak out at home, because they are products of my troubled, complicated thoughts. Being in silcence with thousands of people in one room. Every time the silence begins, images of my hometown or any european capital city appear infront of me. I picture how in exactly this moment the streets are crowded with people, car drivers hit the brakes, stones are vibrating from music, cries and laugthers covering the silcence. Then I get so thankful for this tiny place in the world where nobody disturbes the holy silence surrounding us. This is just a small village in the middle of nowhere in France, but this is life as it should always be. I was so grateful, to be allowed to live it.
I like how everybody in this room has brought his story. I like how all together we are a library and we will never have to stop reading.
It all went so fast. After this first super delicious meal we attempted the night of the lights, and then got caught into the daily life of Taizé: morning prayer – breakfast- bible introduction – midday prayer – lunch – work – dinner- evening prayer – oyak. That´s it. So simple. So intense, and so beloved. I can´t even think about it without getting absolutely heartbroken. How can you love every single part of a day?
I loved the prayers. I loved eating breakfast consisting of bread rolls and dark chocolate. I loved the sun on my skin and the sunburn in my face and the bells and portugese people shouting out their national top songs at Oyak each night of their stay. I loved the late night talks with my best best friend in the whole wide world, and I loved waking up by the indefinable sounds of the sheeps next to the village.
Then there were two things I adored: my bible introduction group and my job.
To be honest: bible introduction may sound like the most boring two hours of your life. But only until you get to know a) brother Ulrich, expert in re-interpretating bible passages and aware of the problems young people are facing today and b) your picture-perfect bible group. My picture perfect bible group consisted of four germans, Laura, Sara, Annika and me, four portugese girls, Neusa, Martha, Bea and Sonia, and one swedish girl, Tea. Each morning after the main introduction with brother Ulrich, we were supposed to discuss the bible text and the questions written down below. And we were really good in doing this! And we went so much further than this. That is, maybe, at least, part of the explanation for the magic of Taizé: you open up your heart to people you have never seen before and you will never seen again, and that makes it easy to speak out all these words. Everything that hurts. Imagine all your fears are stones inside of you. Whenever you speak one of them out, you throw one of these stones away, and you get ligther. That´s how it felt talking with my bible group. The best thing, in fact, was the mixture. We could be doing deep talk in one minute and playing Taizé-Twister in the next. For one week, we´ve been friends, limited for 7 days of being super close. That we will never meet again – we knew it all along. Still, we let this friendship happen, and I am so glad we did. Throughout all our conversations, games and lunch dates, I learned so many new things about different perspectives, ways of life, cultural differences and understandings of faith, but this was the most important thing: we´re all having a light in us, Jesus le christ, lumière interieure, and we should never lose it.
Bea, Sonia, Neusa, Laura, Annika, Sara, Tea – I am so grateful we met. Thank you for everything.
The greatest risk any of us is going to take is to be seen as we are.
Afternoons in casa
Whoever stays in Taizé from Sunday to Sunday is, lets call it friendly invited, to contribute to the daily common life of 3000 people by doing a little task each day. At the beginning of the week, these jobs are distributed, and there is basically nothing that doesn´t exist. Some clean the toilets or the kitchens, some do either the small or the big washing up, some prepare the church and remind people to be silent and to not lie on the back (not that we were reminded once or twice, not at all…) , others help in the Oyak or make sure that the night silence does not get disturbed. Out of all these jobs, I was lucky enough to get the best one: the welcome in Casa.
When you reach Taizé, Casa is the first building you´ll see, at least besides the dominant clock tower. You have to go there to do your registration and to receive your accomodation, and also if you have problems like: I LOST MY MEAL TICKET. WHAT CAN I DO? After one week in Casa, I´ve learned the answer: come back later (= so the next shift has to deal with it 😀 ).
Thats what I did each afternoon: welcoming people from all over the world. By the end of the week I had spoken to french people ( in french! so proud), spanish people, a couple from czech republic, a girl from Hong Kong, people from Austria, Switzerland and the US, and – of course- at least 1000 germans. And it made me so happy! You give them your smile and they give it back. You relive the feeling and share the joy of arriving at the most beautiful place on earth. You are the one who is able to fix their problems. They might forget you two hours after the arrival, but they will remember the warm welcome of a place that will kindle a fire in them. And I loved it.
In case the miracle happened and we didn´t have any guests, me and my work mates Justin, Svea and the permanents Thore, Tobias and Sara found funny other things to do. Let´s not talk about it too much, but did you know some cookies and rubber bands are enough to open the fire? It was awesome. I will never forget these afternoons and nights in Casa. Thank you all so much for this.
To keep the things that can´t be kept
With each day, life in Taizé seemed to get a little brighter. I don´t care about the freezing nights and the lack of apropriate nutrition as long as I have warm smiles and fulfilling conversations throughout the day. This was not one of my journeys where I could mark an end and a beginning. This was life itself, and I didn´t want to quit it. The closer the day came, the more I frightened. We talked about it in our bible group, where everybody felt the same. Once I even talked to a priest about it after the evening prayer. His words were so beautiful and comforting. Afterwards, I went to have the obligatory crying session everybody passes during Taizé at least once, and then I stayed at the front part of the church for hours. People were singing, Bleibet hier und wachet mit mir and The kingdom of God is justice and peace and I just sat there, unable to move. Yes, I believe in the fact that Taizé changed me. That Taizé changed everything. And I believe it wont leave me again. The clocktower of the church is kind of concave and whenever I looked up to it, I thought this must be the direct connection between heaven and earth. I imagined that while we were sitting there and singing, on the other end of the tower God and Jesus and my grandmother and everybody else that left us before were sitting and smiling and starting their own choir.
You´re the closest to heaven that I´ll ever be, and I don´t want to go home right now.Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
These last days were joy and writing on postcards, tears and sunrises with Bea, and being aware of not starting to miss something before it is actually gone (Thank you, Pia!).
Then saturday came, and new guests arrived on the hill and walked up the streets and didn´t know the lyrics of the songs we knew by heart by that time. They didn´t know our stories. There haven´t been there when brother Jaques died or when brother Ulrich joked in the bible introduction, they didn´t witness the big watter battle of small washing up or the rubber band fights in Casa. It was up to them to create their own stories, and it was time to leave for us.
In the end, only two things mattered:
- We had a perfect, perfect week, and no one can ever take this away from us. This experience doesn´t lose its magic, just because it´s over.
- As long as we never go too far without realizing who we really are and how we became who we are, we will stay on the right path. Always.
Until we meet again
The best way to say Good Bye is to say thank you instead. Never let the light you have in your heart go away.
Maren, Paula, Jule, Michelle, Amelie, Beate, Sabrina, Laura, Sara, Beatriz, Sonia, Neusa, Tea, Martha, Annika, Justin, Svea, Timothy, Thore, Tobias, Jakob, Sara, Pia, Ina, and all the other people who keep up the magic of this place.
My first stay in Taizé: http://tabitha-anna.de/5-jours-a-taize/
Information / website of Taizé: http://www.taize.fr/de