What a day. I’m now in Taizé in south east France, having recently pitched my tent and gone along to one of the evening services. It all feels a bit surreal, considering only this morning I was waiting on the platform at Clapham Junction Station to get a train to Gatwick, then a plane to Lyon, then a train and a bus before finally arriving at Taize at around 6.30 this evening.
When we first got here it was pretty chaotic, with people and their luggage everywhere, having either just arrived or departing. It was a bit like a refugee camp. I was also struggling to spot anyone under around the age of 12. This is a slight exaggeration but everyone seems terribly young – mostly teenagers of varying European nationalities – Poles, Croats, Italians, French, Russians etc.
Rose and I finally found the English arrival room for ‘adults’, as sadly we are now aged 30 and over, so fall into the adult category. From here it was all pretty well organized. A friendly Norwegian girl with a bright blond streak in her fringe sat down with and explained how Taizé works and the pattern of daily life here (three services a day, workshops, chores). A man from Croatia joined us – he was on a week’s silent retreat and had been many times before.
Apparently the week we are here (1 – 8 August) is the busiest time of the year for Taizé, with as many as 4,000 people here from all across Europe. The Archbishop of York, Bishop Sentamu is here too – so we’re in good company.
As we are in the 30 and over category we are both camping in the adult section, which is fine by me. We were asked to make a recommended donation of 84 – 140 Euros for our week’s stay here, which includes all meals.
I managed to pop along to a service this evening. A bell tolls loudly in the courtyard calling everyone to prayer. The church is really atmospheric – with candles at the front of the church and the Brothers, dressed in white, sitting down the middle. The music was beautiful and I felt really moved by it all.