Inexhaustible joy in Taize 

By Rosemary Austin

Pope Francis in ‘Laudato Si’ writes, “returning to places, a chance to recover something of the true self.”

With this in mind, I pack my bag and head for a return visit to Taizé, France, 40 years on!

I reflect back to Sunday, 22nd January 1978 – a very special day for me – joining others to listen to Brother Roger, first prior of Taizé Community. He shared his heart’s joy of the Gospel with resonating compassion in his words that still light up – “Be consumed with burning zeal for the unity of the Body of Christ”.

These words remained with me as the bus pulled away from Taizé. But as a little time passed I felt as if it was a coracle I had left in, not a bus! A coracle like the Christian forebears travelled in – not with a sense of getting to a place to arrive but rather to be, ‘in the waiting and the listening’, in a process of being and becoming? In the words of Taizé – on a ‘pilgrimage of trust’.

Now 2018 and I am walking through the gates of Taizé again, along with thousands! Young and ‘young of heart’ like myself.

This year, Brother Alois, prior of Taizé has prepared for everyone visiting, a message for dialogue during our stay, “Four Proposals for the year 2018: Inexhaustible Joy” and a question – ‘how can we respond to this in ours lives?’

The beautiful bells of Taizé call us to three prayer times during the day. We come entering the Church of Reconciliation in silence. We sit together. There are many that can gather here in the very big church. Some sit on the floor, on prayer kneelers or on seats, others kneel in prayer deep with their foreheads on the floor. We sing together, chants in many different languages. There is a Psalm and sacred Bible text reading, read in many different languages. A prayer offered by Brother Alois, repeated in many languages, then silence. We are all in this simple act of being in the silence, together.

Recovery of part of my true self?  It seems like a new true self found! I rediscover Simplicity, Communion with others and living God’s Love in the world! Opening doors of possibilities…

I recall Brother Roger’s words – “In a suffering world, faith leads us to responsibly.”  And stepping forward- Seeking Common Ground, sowing seeds for Christ Jesus and the Gospel, together!

(Across the way in Switzerland, there is the community of sisters of Grandchamp – also ecumenical, and another very special story!)

Rosemary has begun exploring with other Churches in her local community of Goolwa, SA, the possibility of a regular ecumenical Taize gathering. 

Brother Roger came to this church on first coming to Taizé.
Icon of Madonna and child in the little church of Taizé