submitted by Stephen Bryant. This is part 1 of a 2-part reflection on Stephen’s time at Taize and reflecting on climate change from a faith perspective.
The Taize Community is located on the eastern side of France, close to the Swiss border. An ecumenical monastic community, Taize is based in the Roman Catholic Church, but is open to all–and by all, I truly mean all. The community is open to all people, so that those present can live in intentional community with one another and can have open dialogue.
Each year there is a general theme that guides that year’s conversations. The 2019 theme was “Welcoming the Stranger”. This means that the devotionals all connected to how we welcome the stranger. Along with this general theme, there are week-long programs focusing on specific topics within this general theme.
In August 2019, I was blessed to be present in Taize for a week of discernment and discussion for young adults focusing on ecological perspectives and climate change. This means that while working, eating and sharing living spaces with people from all over the world, I was able to engage in conversations about how climate change impacts how we welcome the stranger. This all was done while participating in prayer three times a day. These prayer services were done with thousands of people in one space, following the iconic Taize style of prayer. We were singing and speaking in languages from all around the world, but it felt like this was done in one voice.
I lived with people from all around the world, in the Taize community, for a week. People were at Taize for a variety of reasons. Some were in my program, others were experiencing a week of silence. Some were attending the program focusing on interfaith dialogue, while others were just there for the traditional weekly program. But there was a sense of togetherness that is hard to express. I think the best way to understand this feeling is to experience it. There are programs all throughout the year, and if you get the chance, I’d recommend you go. Take no expectations of what the experience might be and simply go. It is truly a unique experience.