Time of Reflection
I got home from holiday in Taizé last night and this morning I re-read my last post and it was interesting purely for the past week I’ve had no contact with the outside world for a week… and I survived! It was the strangest experience in many ways as I didn’t notice the absence of my phone, laptop, TV etc. However when I got home I felt as if I’d been away for more than a week. I suppose this is down to the fact that for over a week I was in a self-sealed community with no contact to the outside world. I mean there were phones there, even an Internet station, but I specifically stayed away from them all. I left the community only twice in the week but didn’t read any papers or such like. In fact the only thing that I kept on top of was the first Ashes test which I tuned into on Radio 4 Long-wave (which was an awesome first test).
The title of the post really refers to what the overriding feeling I got when I left Taizé early Sunday morning. While it involved Bible study, discussion and prayer; it had also given me time to reflection on what had been going on in my life recently. By the end of the week I had let go of the problems of the past months and although I didn’t notice it at the time I felt a lot lighter spiritually as well as mentally. I’d be the first to say I’m not overly open when it comes to my beliefs and religion. I haven’t spoken a word of it really online and that’s not because I’m not religious. I guess it’s because to me it’s something personal, I don’t want to preach, in fact that’s something I dislike. For me religion and belief is a journey you take by yourself and I stand by that but I opened up at Taizé.
The discussion group I joined was for 25-35yr olds and the topic for the week was “God says yes to what we are.” It was a journey through the Bible from Old to New Testament stopping at Genesis, Exodus, story of Elijah, Jesus healing a paralytic, Jesus washing feet & Revelations. Each day we then split off into small groups in the morning or afternoon depending if you took part in the communal work. I didn’t so my small group meetings were in the afternoon and I’ll say this now, the group I was in, well, I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful group of people. I think this is the main reason I was quite open in groups as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before I went. Taizé in many ways is like the many Quaker residential weeks I’ve been on with obvious exceptions. However unlike Taizé group discussion is based upon the mornings speaker which was often on a topic based on the weeks theme e.g. the week theme of Peace and discussion about “The Troubles.” I’d never been in a situation where I was talking about my faith and my beliefs before in this way and at first it was strange and a little difficult. I was worried that I wasn’t religious enough because I don’t go to Church, haven’t read the Bible in any depth and generally felt that I was out of my depth. I was very wrong and found myself comfortable talking about the days topic with my group to be frank it was quite liberating.
The other thing that I enjoyed at Taizé was the grand scale and multi-national aspect of it. My group comprised of people from 5 countries and overall there were people from many countries from as far away as Sri-Lanka to someone from Bristol. At the same time though, and this is my favourite story of Taizé, it showed yet again how small the world is. As most will know I was in Seattle in November of last year and as part of the trip I went to see the Huskies play UCLA in NCAA Men’s Football. Although the game was a washout for the Huskies the half-time show was a tribute to Monty Python which was fantastic. Well one person in my group was actually in that half-time show! She was absolutely astonished when we stumbled on this fact and I just couldn’t believe it. Either way it just goes to show what a small world this is.
So as I said, the past week was one mostly of reflection, however it has also been one of fresh impetus. As you can see I’ve changed my blog theme, I wanted to go back to a standard look but one that is simple. I’m also planning to learn Swedish as I made a promise and I look forward to discovering a new language. I also feel refreshed, ready to take on the change of job next month as well as any other challenge that lies ahead. I feel I have support now and a network of friends to ask advice. Life doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did and the experiences of the past week have a lot do with that feeling.