Tag Archives: Taize

Making Space during Lent

I think I have developed some bad Lenten habits. Each year, for the past four years post-college, I have tried to give something up (chocolate twice, french fries once and Facebook once). And this year, I have tried, with mixed results, to pick something up. My goal was to take a morning walk each day, but frankly, the allure of the bed and last minute homework assignments or work meetings have sometimes (more often than I would care to admit) proved stronger than my Lenten commitments.  Given this particular list, it’s sometimes hard to sort out whether these goals have grown strongly out of a conviction that  this is a meaningful spiritual practice, or out of some deep-rooted, secret desire to disguise a diet and/or fitness as a Lenten practice.

But yesterday, I made my way to chapel on campus, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the worship service was being carried out in the Taizé style, with the slow, repetitive singing of several prayer songs, interspersed with scripture, prayer and meditation. For me, this style of worship allows for a settling into a calm rhythm of reflection and invites me naturally to make space in amidst the clutter crowding my mind for the sacred to break in. As we sang the words “Nada te turbe” or “Nothing can trouble,” words orginally taken from a prayer written by Saint Teresa of Avila,  over and over, I found myself calmer than I had been in weeks.

Four years ago, my family had the opportunity to spend three days in France living and worshipping within the Taizé community, which includes a group of monks and nuns who have committed to living life together. The community has very clear daily rhythms set up with meals, service to the community (cleaning, cooking, etc.), time for meditation, workshops and worship three times a day. The community draws pilgrims from all around the world, who have come to experience the birth place of the Even though we were there for only a short time, there was something strangely seductive about this clear cut and stable rhythm, which placed worship and reflection as the bookends and core of each day.

Too often, during Lent, I think we can prioritize the need to give something up or to take something on, without thinking about the new spaces that are created by these actions, and what comes to fill them. As we head into this week, Holy Week, considered by many Christians to be one of the most important points in the liturgical calendar, I wonder what it would look like to think carefully about making space for the in-breaking of something new. For small deaths and little resurrections in our own lives. Or, as Jan Richardson suggests, to be willing to take refuge in order that we might be rejuvenated.

Blessing of Refuge

By Jan Richardson

That I may flee to you
not to escape forever
from the world that you have created,
the world that you
call beloved

but that in your refuge
I will find
your presence
to strengthen me
your courage
to sustain me
your grace
to encompass me
as I go
where you would
have me go.


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