When I was 13 years of age, I dreadfully agreed take part in a camping trip with my local scout group, during the autumn holidays. The destination was the east of France, Taize to be exact. The coach ride was long and uncomfortable and when we arrived it rained cats and dogs. The camping site was waterlogged, and after a day or two all my spare clothes and sleeping bag were soaking wet. No TV!
I just wanted to go home… little did I know that I would return back over and over again and since my first child was born I would return on a two year basis ever since. Today all my three kids love it too!
Taize is an ecumenical monastic order and community of international brothers founded by Brother Roger Schulz in 1940, in the country side in the east of France. Frère Roger, as he was known by in France was born on the 12th May, 1915 in Provence, Vaud, Switzerland and died age 90, on the 16th August, 2005 in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire. Since the death of Frère Roger, Brother Alois is the prior of the Community.
Every year more than 100,000 young people as well as families from around the world travel to Taize to spend a week with the brothers. At the arrival each person is asked to make a small donation toward the cost of food and accommodation for the stay and everyone is asked to volunteer some of their time to help in a group to organise the daily routines of the community, like; cooking, cleaning, night guarding, children’s activities etc.
The life and accommodation are simple, but over the years several developments have taken place; developed and modern sleeping facilities, the installation of new bathrooms, several professional outdoor kitchen islands and telephone and internet booths and play areas, to name just a few (still no TV 😉 ).
Guests are invited to join the brothers to take part in three prayers a day, while babies and small children (during the Easter and Summer Holidays only) are looked after by volunteers in a Kindergarten room opposite the main building.
Famous for Taize is the large bell tower on the campus, which gives the signal to all to come to the prayers.
During the prayers, everyone including the bothers, sit on the floor or kneel on special benches. The prayers start with a short talk, followed by each brother reading a line from the bible in his own language. Typical for Taize are the songs with lyrics from the bible accompanied by the organ and sometimes by other instruments, which are rhythmic and lovely to listen to or to join in.
Between praying and organising there is enough time to make international friends, and to discover the beautiful countryside and small villages, like for example Cluny – a small village 20 km northwest from Macon, in the Saône-et-Loire department which is well known for its Abbey and picture perfect town centre.
What I like most about Taize is the simplicity and the opportunity it allows me and my family to rejuvenate ourselves through the relaxing scenery, the community and the stress free friendly atmosphere.
What my kids say about Taize:
Little J, age 5 “Seeing the horses, ponies and cows.”
Medium J, age 11 “Eating French food.”
Teen J, age 16 “Playing games with my friends in the youth groups.”
If you want to find out more about Taize and international meetings, please click here: http://www.taize.fr/en
Have you ever been to Taize or have you attended a Taize meeting in your area? How did you like it?
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All the Best,