In a small village in the middle of France you’ll find thousands of people travelling around, especially on sundays, people from all over the world (even though most are germans). They are all going to the same place, to the smallest, cutest village you’ll find, and they are all going to a monastery for one week, and then they’re going home. Just like that.
There is no nice resturant, there is no bar for drinking loads of alcohol on their vacation and there isn’t even a pool for bathing during the really hot summer weather. There aren’t even real nice and big beds???
Instead people eat beans and rice, drink a super sweet tea and just stay in the church during the warmest hours of the day, or they’re off on Bible studies. If you’re lucky you get to sleep in a room with six others, and with loads of spiders. If you don’t like spiders I recommend bringing your own tent.
I get loads of questions about Taizé, and no one really gets why I would like to go to a monastery a week once a week, where you’re not really connected to the rest of the world and you go to the Church three times a day (even though I usually skip the morning prayer, but don’t tell brother Matthew) and the food you get is just what is. There isn’t really any choices, so you just eat and thank God that at least you got some food.
This is the picture of the food line, a couple of years ago. Even though over 3000 people get food every week during summer times, it usually goes by for only 20 minutes, sometimes even less. And if you’re sneaky you can get past it for under 5 minutes, but don’t tell anyone else, it won’t work if everyone does this….
So what is Taizé?
Taizé the community is a, well, a community. Over 100 brothers lives there and welcome thousands of young people from all over the world. Most stay just for one week, some stay for two and some stay for over a year. There are three prayers during the day that everyone should take part of (ssh), and the prayers aren’t really anything complicated. It’s just one or two lines in different languages repeated over and over again, with a melody. This is my favorite one: Cantarei ao Senhor, enquanto viver; louvarei o meu Deus enquanto existir. Nele encontro a minha alegria. Nele encontro a minha alegria.
Read more: usual workplaces, how to become a Taizé pro and what is really a Bible Study Group?
After the morning prayer there’s breakfast, then there’s time for Bible study led by a Brother, or you got work. This summer I worked in Olinda, which is the family village. Most people who go to Taizé are over 17, but they welcome around 100 families every week as well. When I was a kid we lived in the family village, and well, it’s a complete different thing than the Taizé week, if you want to know more about that then ask me in the comments!
So, you got to work during your stay in Taizé, since they don’t charge you that much for staying. Swedes are one of those who have to pay the most, and we pay something between 50-70 euros for one week. They just charge for everything to go around, nothing more. The workers are the visitors. Everyone work so that the place can fit 3000 people, or how many that are staying that week.
The workplaces I know of is:
- Cleaning team (could mean cleaning anything, from toilets to the Church and picking up garbage from the ground)
- Olinda team (taking care of children in the morning)
- Food team (distributing food to all those people, or cook it or take care of deliveries)
- Oyak team (working in the cafeteria-thing, they sell some (not good) pizzas, chocolate and well, different things you don’t survive without. Actually they do sell alcohol, but there’s so many regulations about that, and it doesn’t even taste good, so it’s not worth it)
- Handing out song books in Church-team (well, they stand in the doors of the church and hand out song books…)
If you know anymore work-places, please tell me so I can fill up the list!
This was my very beautiful Bible group a couple of years ago! Half of them are germans, but there’s some people from some other countries as well.
If you have Bible study in the morning you probably got work in the afternoon, if you’re not in a super Bible study group, that got two meetings a day… And if you work in the morning you got Bible study in the afternoon. I guess it’s all about the Bible, but who wouldn’t want to discuss it? It’s really interesting and hard to understand sometimes, so I think it’s really a good thing to discuss and to read through.
Except for morning prayer there is lunch prayer that’s just before lunch, and then there’s the evening prayer, that starts 20.30. That is my favorite one, I just love to go some time before it (after dinner) and sit in the front of the church so I get a good spot. Since everyone sits on the floor in the church and everyone is facing forward the best sound is in the front. In the back there’s usually the one’s who always rush out of the church so they can come first to Oyak in the evening, but that doesn’t really happen’ in the front. It’s just lots and lots of people praying together.
After the evening prayer the whole village is supposed to be quiet (some time after 22), and the only places you’re really aloud to talk or make some noises is in the church or at Oyak. There you can dance, sing, laugh and play with your friends. If you ever been to Taizé you probably know the song about a dancing pony and the one about crazy chickens… And those of you who don’t… well, you have to go there, I won’t show you! 😉
My top five favorite places:
- CHURCH – well, it’s obvious if you have been to Taizé. If you haven’t, well, GO. NOW.
- THE SOURCE – this place is probably the most beautiful part of Taizé. It’s like a small lake with lots and lots of places to just sit down and reflect during your day. Taizé is supposed to be a place where you go for reflection, and this is the place where you really got to reflect.
- THE FOOD LINE – I don’t know why I like to stand in a queue that isn’t even a queue. Maybe it reminds me of Sweden, of home, where everyone just loves to stand in queues. Maybe it’s because I’m a pro of getting to the front faster than anyone else (yes, queue skipping, sssh).
- OYAK – this is the place to be at if you want to be cool. Here I used to be a lot more often when I was 16, 17, 18… At least at the nights. This year I was there more during the day, because, well, they sell some kind of coffee… 😉
- POINT 5 – its like the best hangout place. Always something going on. Always someone to talk to. Or, if you want, you can read all those messages on the message board. Maybe someone left sth for you?
This picture is from 2010… Can you see me? 😉 It was during spring, so it was really, really cold during the evenings and nights (why we are all wearing fleece jackets).
One thing I really love about Taizé is that people are so open. You can talk to ANYONE, even the brothers, if you want to. There is always someone who will listen, there is always someone who can cheer you up or help you with something. If you don’t know anyone there, well, you’ll have to challenge yourself a bit in the beginning, but the easiest is just to sit next to someone down during lunch time and start talking.
That’s how you’ll meet people from all over the world. And please, don’t forget to get their names so you can add them on facebook, so you can ask each other when the next time you’re going!
Become a Taizé pro:
So… there are several things that will make you look like a Taizé-pro, even if you are going the first time, and I will now share the most essential ones with you now:
The fluffy pants. They’re probably called something else, but you know what I mean. This is typically Taizé-clothes. Just be sure they are colored, black and boring ones will not do.
The bag. So, a couple of years ago there was a different kind of bag people was walking around with…. But you know, time changes, as well as fashion. This year it was the year of this kind of bag. These are best in easy colors, like black, white, gray and light brown. Nothing that draws the attention. That’s what you got your pants for.
The flip-flops. This is one of those things that will never go out of Taizé-fashion. Why? Well, you will understand when you get there. Make sure you don’t bring your best one’s, since you will be wanting to shower in them.
The notebook. This is one of the most essential ones. I don’t know what Taizé pros write, but make sure you write something and that you’re seen writing these stuff.
Salt and pepper. Some of the meals you get is really good, but some…. well, let just say they need more salt and pepper. Next year Im actually thinking of bringing some ketchup as well… You know McDonalds, don’t you? They sometimes have ketchup in small packages…. Those would be really good for Taizé.
So, now you learned more about Taizé daily life. There’s so much more I could tell you, but I don’t think this post will do any good it its longer than it is now. Just make sure you bring lots of patience and courage, both will be essential. And make sure you bring some questions about Christianity if you aren’t a Christian, since there will be lots of people to discuss it with.
Taizé is the place I go to once a year to really get to talk to God, to take some time of my daily life and to just relax. Some people need four weeks during summer to get back on track (their vacation), but for me, I only need one week in Taizé.
The most important of all: Don’t you dare worry about your English. The Taizé-English is a great mixture of all languages together, and you will get on very well with only knowing what Thank you, silence, dinner time and it’s so hot means.
I made a ”short” vlog from this summers Taizé-trip. It’s a hour by hour vlog – on the Thursday when we were there. And yes, it’s in Swedish, so you have to go to youtube to get the subtitles!
Thank you all for staying with me this long! If you got any questions or if you want to share something that I forgot, well, write it in the comments. This is only one way of looking at Taizé, so be kind! 😉 I’ll be there week 32 next summer and the summer after that and after that, so ask around for a Swede called Clara!
Have you forgotten what our job was last year? ? There is different welcoming teams.
Morning welcome team: welcomes new groups to Taizè.
Night welcome team: tell people to stay quiet.
Late night welcome team: REALLY tell people to be quiet.
Late late night welcome team: wake up sleeping people in the church and tell them to go to sleep (quietly)
Miss u Clara! Hoping to see you next year!! Love from Norway!
Hahaha! Right! 😉
I miss you too!! I think we should work at the big washing up next year… 😉 love!
Rubbish Collection Team – well you collect the rubbish from all bins over The whole area 😉 lots of fun 😀
Holding the silence boards – maybe part of the welcome on the fields team
Haha yes, those two I forgot! 🙂 Thank you!
Hi there – I lived in Taize for a month when I was 25, but since I live in the US, I haven’t been back since… but we are going this summer and I’m so happy! We will be there July 8-15 for a family meeting. My daughter is 14 and my son is 16. I was wondering if you could give me any tips about the family meeting since I have never participated… Is it mostly for younger children or are there usually plenty of 12-14 year olds who participate? My son wants to live with the 15/16 year olds, and I will ask about that.I know he will participate in their program. If you have any suggestions for what to bring to make it more comfortable. I have no idea if the food is the same as for the main Taize. Thank you for any tips and for sharing any experiences you had as a youth in the family meetings!
Atlanta, GA USA
Hi Lisa! Thank you for writing! As you might have seen, I’ve answered your email as well. The food is the same, and it might be good to bring some bread or something else to eat in case of emergency 😉
I think it could be good to bring a book or something else to do, like cards to play games or something like that! I hope your trip will be amazing!
Hi there – We will be there July 8-15 for a family meeting. My daughter is 14 and my son is 16. I was wondering if you could give me any tips about the family meeting since I have never participated… Are there usually plenty of 12-14 year olds who participate? If you have any suggestions for what to bring to make it more comfortable… that would be great.
Thank you for any tips and for sharing any experiences you had as a youth in the family meetings!
Atlanta, GA USA
Having trouble posting a question… thanks for this page!
Yes, it’s because I have to accept all comments before they are published here. 🙂