Reflection Masthead
Issue 157 - Taizé Revisited - August 2017

We recently joined in the " Prayer in the Style of Taizé" at Alamo Heights United Methodist Church Garden Chapel. Besides the beautiful prayer service led by Rev. Donna Strieb, we were transported back in memory to our 2001, 2003, 2004, visits to the ecumenical community in Taizé, France
In the Style of Taizé  
       Driving home from last week's "Prayer in the Style of Taiz é" Bill composedly said, "I'd do it all over again." What did he mean? He again would go on pilgrimage to Taiz é, France, where we first met July 2003? He again would spend another week in prayer at the ecumenical Taizé Church of Reconciliation as we did October 2004? He again would revisit the lovely San Antonio AHUMC Garden Chapel where, in the spirit of Taiz é, he pledged his forever love to me September 2004?
       I didn't ask. I have a hunch "it" is the prayer of Taiz é. It is simple music - words from Holy Scripture - prayerfully sung, sinking deeper into the heart with each repetition of sacred sounds. Similar to sacred chant, the music allows space to listen to God in the words of trust, hope, and love. Bill and I both receive and listen to weekly podcasts from the Taiz é Church of Reconciliation. It is our link to intentional reconciliation, ongoing, in our relationship.
       The sign on the Taiz é Church of Reconciliation reads, "Be Reconciled All You Who Enter Here" inviting all to rise above religious and cultural differences and to accept one another as Christ. At the Taiz é Saturday night service, the prayers are sung in the native languages of the 5-7000 young people who come from all over the world, but mostly from all the European countries for a week in Taiz é. We, too, who gathered last Wednesday for "Prayer in the Style of Taiz é" at San Antonio's AHUMC Garden Chapel came together in a spirit of reconciliation across religious and cultural lines. For this, we sang "In the Lord I'll be Ever Thankful" - a meaningful psalm of praise.
                             --by Jan
Making Silence
It is not the singing I remember most, but the silence; not so much the speaking I remember as the leaning. Let me explain:
My first trip to Taiz é was in the summer of 2003. There were five thousand people there that week, maybe one thousand of us middle-aged, the rest young adults, aged 17-25. At every entrance to the church, ushers held signs (in multiple languages) requesting silence. Nonetheless, with five thousand people, there were the inevitable sounds of shuffling, and coughing and whispers.
Each service began with twenty or thirty minutes of singing, interspersed with brief scripture readings and spoken prayers. Then came a period of silence - real silence; true silence; utter, complete silence in a church filled with five thousand people, many of them still teenagers!
Kathleen Norris tells of an exercise she used to do with elementary school children. "First, we'll make noise," she told the children, "and then we'll make silence." At Taizé, in our singing together, we had somehow learned to make silence, true silence, amazingly deep silence, in which God's still, small voice, could speak to each person.
It was on this same trip to Taizé that Jan and I met. We shared a meal on Monday of that week, where we talked for hours. I remember very little of what we said, but I remember the night that followed, as I could hardly sleep for excitement. And I remember the evening prayers on Thursday. In the church at Taizé, there are no pews; everyone sits on the floor. By late in the week, some of us older folks had found a section on the side, where steps led down to the main floor. Sitting on the steps, with feet on the step below, made the floor-sitting easier. There we sat, several of our group together. Jan sat in front of me, and sometime during the singing she leaned back, and rested against my shins. We both remember the leaning, a sign of increasing comfort with one another, a sign of growing trust.
Those are just some of the memories that came flooding back last week, as we sang the songs and prayed in the style of Taizé, in the Garden Chapel at AHUMC where we exchanged our vows some 14 months after we met.  It is not the singing I remember most, but the silence; not so much the speaking I remember as the leaning.

                                                                                              -- by Bill

Life at Taizé.

Enjoy this video of a week's stay at Taizé, showing community life as well as prayer experiences.With heartfelt respect, we are grateful for the life of Brother Roger Schultz,who blessed our marriage in October 2004, shortly before his death August 16, 2005.

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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries



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