Monday, 16 August 2010
Br Roger of Taize
Five years ago today, Br. Roger of Taize was brutally murdered in the Church of the Reconciliation in Taize. I remember exactly where I was at the time; on holiday in Studland when I received an email first thing in the morning the day after and then there being a picture on the front page of The Times newspaper. I felt numb, totally numb. Taize was and still is a major part of my faith journey and life and during the 18months I was there 20 or so years ago I had a lot of contact with Br Roger. Why on earth was this holy man struck down and killed and in such a violent manner? Brother Roger was the holiest man I have met in my time on this earth. A man of reconciliation.
In the next few hours I tried to process everything, but the one thing that was important to me was to try to get to the funeral. It was the following week. I looked at my calender - I was back at work, but for some reason the day of the funeral I had nothing on, nothing at all. I booked the day off. I then booked the necessary Eurotunnel tickets - I was going to go there and back in a day. 1200 or so miles. I did it. I was at the funeral. The community had kindly made some provision for the old 'permanants'; volunteers, so I had lunch and then into the church for the service. It was a service of love, of course of great emotion, but there was no hatred, no hate for the murderer. Just prayers for her.
Taize, over the years, has shaped my life significantly. I went there as an 18 year old and returned at 20 having learnt a huge amount about me, about God and my faith. From there, it was all about exploring where God was taking me in this life. At one stage I considered the monastic life and another 'hicup' on my road to discerning my vocation, but now, the third time and with much help from Br Thomas of Taize, I am on the road to ordination and the part Taize and Brother Roger has played in that I cannot underestimate.
I spent 18months living on the hillside in the middle of Burgundy. The tiny village that Brother Roger found in 1940, where he was asked to stay and make his home because the villagers were so alone. Joined by friends who formed the community, they set about on their journey of reconciliation. A journey of absolute faith where people were not asked what denomination they were but a true celebration of what each denomination had to offer in worship and life, from the orthodox, to the catholic to the protestant. Since the 1950's the community welcomed more and more people, mainly young; all this without any publicity or desire to attract people. And today, the community welcomes, in some weeks, more than 4,000 people - still mainly the young, who pass by and are able, freely, to question. Question their faith, question who they are and their role in this life.
It is a place that I find solace. Where I am able to question. To ask God where he is leading me.....and to often begin to find answers.
I return on November 11th for a few days silent retreat. To continue to ask those questions.
To finish, a quote...
'You are searching for God: are you aware that what matters is the welcome you extend to Christ, the Risen Lord? By his presence, always offered to each person, by his forgiveness, he brings you to life. By placing you confidence in him and by forgiving, you will break out of your inner prisons to dare to commit yourself as a pilgrim of reconciliation, even in the divisions of the Christian family and even in those which tear apart the human family.' Br Roger of Taize