Sixteen hours unbroken sleep. Nice. Surpsingly enough this was not on the coach home from Taize, rather it was in my bed on return from Taize. I woke up at about half four this morning following lying down at about midday yesterday. Fantastic.
I had a wonderful time at Taize. Wonderful in so many ways, some a little more unexpected than others. I've got lots to chew over in my mind, and I will probably share some of this in due course.
For the moment, I will settle for a few brief reflections on my week away. I've come back feeling healthier - spiritually, physically and emotionally - than I have done in a long time. The rhythm of community life has been really helpful. I've realised how little rhythm my 'normal' life has had. Rather than being constrictive, the regular events of life at Taize have enabled me to experience freedom in a new and liberating way.
Following on from this, the simplicity of life at Taize has challenged and provoked me. I've always known I'm a bit of a hoarder. In the words of Elton John in a Post Office advert some years ago, "I like nice things". I do. I know I do. And I know that so much of it I can really do without. But in all honesty, its not the nice things that cause me problems. It's the mediocre, crappy things in life that end up weighing me down. Crap TV, an unsatisfying burger from McDonalds, pointless worrying about things that don't matter, etc....
Anyway. I met a lots of wonderful people during the week. In a meeting with my line manager before I went away, she prayed about this - even down to the little things like who I would sit next to on the bus on the way there. Needless to say that prayer was answered. I went with a group led by the Bishop of Pontefract, and although it was kind of a Diocese of Wakefield trip, though there were a number of people from the Doncaster area, Sheffield and even Soctalnd as well. Met some lovely people from the Diocese of Oxford - bloggers being Sarah and inspired by Sarah, Rowan. In the interests of fairness(!!) Sarah is a youth worker/blogger/published author. I also spent quite a lot of time with a group from Leicester Cathedral as well as some youth worker-ish types from Sweden, many of whom I swept floors with every morning.
For me the most moving part of the whole week was seeing Brother Bart (yes he does have a cool/funny name) from the Netherlands making his life vows to the community (apparently this kind of thing only happens once or twice a year - so we were rather fortunate to witness this). This was so challenging for me. Seeing somebody that committed to God and to a community of people, that they would give up everything, actually everything, for what they believed in. How much 'stuff' am I hanging on to? But then to see the smiles on the faces of all the brothers, as well as Br Bart, as he was welcomed into the community after making his vows. Afraid that had me in tears. It was beautiful.