Monday, June 2, 2008

Tokens of community

I have left Taize now, but I wanted to say a little something about community life there. We form a bit of a community in the "adult" section of Taize, everyone over 30. We have small group meetings in the afternoon that are of course based on language. My group changed each time, with a couple of Americans, British, Dutch, Swedes, and an English-speaking German who I guess preferred to speak to people outside of Germany since there were plenty of German speakers there.

I started to hang out with some of these folks, especially two British women who were there a couple of days. The one day I went out biking they gave me a lift to the local village which enabled me to buy some sunglasses and get out a little further on the Green Way, Voie Verte, a magnificent bicycle path that passes through Taize and kilometers of French countryside.

I also met two Swiss among all the Germans, and got to know the one a little bit. Thursday was a bit of a change since these acquaintances left, leaving me again without people to quickly join in dining. So it is an interesting and changing community at Taize. I miss it a lot. It is a camp atmosphere, only this is for adults. And I realized that this community would never gather again.

At the same time I realized that on my European sojourn I am not alone. I realized how one person after another has offered hospitality to me. In one sense this is a community, though hardly one, or at least a conglomeration of people who are making my trip possible. I have received several tokens of this community.

The woman who gave me a ride in Chicago gave me some of the wet wipes she sells, for when I need to clean up after a bike ride. Someone from Colorado gave me a small pocket cross as a token of blessing during my time of sabbatical. Finally one of the British women gave me her hair brush.

When they gave me a ride to the neighboring village I had also wanted to purchase a hairbrush, but since my hair is thick and I need a special kind, I couldn't find what I needed. They had teased me when they gave me a ride about the dangers of taking rides from strange women, after my experience in Chicago. I retorted with telling them that so far people were giving me gifts. So on the day they left one of them gave me her hairbrush, which was just the right kind. I was so surprised I don't know if I thanked her or not, I am sure I didn't thank her enough. All of these people are showing me great kindness and I appreciate these reminders of conversations that we had and especially these reminders of their grace and hospitality in making my time go a little better as I travel from one place to another.

Now that I am in Basel of course this story of hospitality continues. I stayed in the home of a local Mennonite family here and they again showed me extraordinary kindness.


Anne said...

Hi Doug - I love reading your blog. I just found it today - we have moved since we returned from France so our life has been a bit chaotic. You are a part of our wonderful memories of Taize . We have so many and all are wonderful. What a blessing in our lives! Cam actually wept through the Sunday service - he was so touched by the singing, the community and the love he felt. I have never seen him so touched in 34 years of marriage. Anyway, Sunday after we left we spent the afternoon with our new German friend, Urusla (from our English speaking group) and her husband Hans Herman. We went to Cluny to the Abbey - thanks to your recommendation. Thanks for sharing in your blog. I am going to continue to read it and learn much from you.
May God bless you as you travel and experience God's wonderful grace in your life. Hope our paths will cross again on this side of heaven but if not I'll see you there! Love and blessings, Anne (from NC)

Doug Kaufman said...

Hi Anne, I'm glad you found the blog and are reading it. I too have fond memories of Taize and of meeting you and Cam. I am sorry that I missed the Sunday worship. I hope to return to Taize someday, this side of heaven. I hope things are going well for you as you make these changes in your lives.