You’d think that after 5 years, leaving Taizé would get easier. It doesn’t. It gets harder.
The notes of a friend who, like me, journeyed to Taizé for the fifth time this year, returning to the UK a week ahead of me. She’s right. So right. This time, while others were willing the coach to come and pick us up, I really did not want to leave. Leaving meant facing what is to come. Taizé is time stood still for rest.
Taizé is home. Tents and stars and church and music and openness and stillness. There was small group and chores, and new chants and glorious Burgundy countryside. And for the first time, having nothing to do one afternoon, I went with a UK family’s children, to their Olinda play. Paul in prison. And it was hilarious and to-the-point, and the children’s reactions were priceless. And I felt lifted.
Other parts of the week were hard. The Veneration of the Cross. I went early in the afternoon, when it is quieter, cooler. But still it left me fragile, broken inside. Laying down so much; it all feeling like too much to cope with, even with God’s help. Too much. From then on, each silence, I was fighting, or in, tears. I am none the more able to discern than when I left. I heard so many times, in the readings and teaching, the phrase ‘do not be afraid’. But I am. And it is too much, too much, too much.
Taizé is community. A community of brothers who listen, as the first prior would listen, long into the night. And speaking to the brother of last year, he said that it is not my fault that I am afraid. That I have had much in the past to be afraid of. That in spite of the struggle, I can plant a garden, underground, of all the precious and good things that still happen. That I can worry about a day at a time. That God will be working in me, even when I can’t face Him; God does not abandon.
The brother said that I am called only to be myself. Taizé is home because it is where I feel closest to my true self. Where I feel more able to talk to people, and in other languages; where I feel a sense of belonging, glimpses of hope that I can be more like this at home.
I am afraid of what is to come. The fifteenth century words of Nikolaus Von Flüe have been written into a new chant this year:
Gott, nimm alles von mir, was mich hindert zu dir! gib alles mir, was mich fördert zu dir! Mein Herr und mein Gott, nimm mich mir und gib mich ganz zu eigen Dir!
A brave request. One I am not sure I can pray honestly. But I would like to. To go to Taizé is a pilgrimage of trust. God is trust. I am trying to trust Her with what lies ahead.