I’d been looking forward to Taizé for over a year, but when it came to getting on the x90 in Oxford, London-bound, I was petrified. I was feeling very low , the thought of the break ahead, just about keeping me afloat, day-by-day. That morning, my thoughts were racing. I’d never been before, and I hardly knew anyone who was going, and what if I was asked to do something I simply couldn’t do, and there would be thousands of people there, and what if I couldn’t find the others, and……
I did find them. The journey was long, but endurable. And Taizé was fantastic. I got to see (and hear) the bells, and the Church, and to meet people from all over the world, and to share the Bible with them, and to sing with the brothers of Taizé. And I found that I could talk to people, and I could manage physically with what I was asked to do, and there were people to help me where I couldn’t do as I needed to do, and it was sunny and okay.
I love this song:
Gott, lass meine Gedanken sich sammeln zu dir. Bei dir ist das Licht, du vergisst mich nicht.Bei dir ist die Hilfe, bei dir ist die Geduld. Ich verstehe deine Wege nicht, aber du weißt den Weg für mich.
(c) Communauté de Taizé
I was okay most of the time. On my own, the desparation would creep back in. Some days I felt nothing. Empty.
See how the psalmists cry out to God in their pain and joy? Yes – I want to – I want to tell Him how I’m feeling, but I can’t.
Or tearful. Or, inexplicably, both. The friendship and fun was enlivening. It distracted my attention, until it was called back at thrice daily prayer, or in moments of solitude. Then I would start to feel again. Tearful to the point where it hurt. But no tears. Exhausted from holding everything together for the sake of work, and from being around people. Trapped, because I needed the company to stay safe from my own darkening thoughts, but longed for solitude and silence.
There was a way through it. God gave me a a way through it. Les Cerisiers is the girls’ silent house – and with a Chaplain’s support, I was allowed to stay there for three nights. This was precious time. A sister who led the Bible study each morning for the girls in silence – once suggested that God is silence.
I was given Bible passages and penetrating questions about them, and I did Lectio Divina properly, like I did in the Week of Guided Prayer, and I voiced how I felt, and I cried. I couldn’t care less about myself anymore. I gave the broken relationships, sadness, and helplessness, fear and loneliness to God. I couldn’t cope with them anymore, but He can. And as time passed, I rested in Silence, went walking in the garden, took photographs, slowed down.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been putting more effort into looking after myself, because it is what God wants, and reminding myself when dark thoughts creep in that I am a beloved child of God – God can cope. One of the brothers said on our last morning in prayers, that it is only when we go to God with empty hands that He is able to fill us with grace for that moment – so maybe feeling empty isn’t a bad thing after all. Not if it means we can fill ourselves with God.