STUDY AT TAIZÉ
Those who come to Taizé with a family live in a separate area called Olinda, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from the main Taizé village in the village of Ameugny (I'll try to pinpoint exactly where Olinda is on the map for this blog entry). All of our eating, sleeping and studying is at Olinda and we only go to Taizé for prayer three times a day or if we want to go to the Exposition (the Taizé bookstore) or if we want to hang out at Oyak (a place open in the afternoon and late evening where you can get a snack or drink).
The schedule for families at Olinda (which is likely not the same schedule that young adults who come to Taizé have) includes study two times each day - 10am and 4:30pm.
At 10am all of the families gather at the Tent (pictured here with this blog entry) and children are dismissed by age groups to be taken care of by "Permanent" staff at Taizé (which is the name given to the young adults who come for more than one week and volunteer). The children have various age-appropriate games and study led by the young adults, probably not unlike what you might find during a week of family camp at Outlaw Ranch.
Meanwhile, the adults are led in Bible Study by one of the brothers. This week, we have focused on the story of Joseph in Genesis. Brother Sebastien (pictured here with this blog entry speaking at the front) usually does an opening with practical information (almost like an "opener") and then Brother Matthew leads about a half hour discussion and conversation. Elisabeth and I both agree that Brother Matthew looks and talks and acts like what you would expect if Mr. Bean was playing the role of a monk. He is funny, insightful and exudes a sense of serenity, integrity and holy hilarity.
The talk by Brother Matthew (i.e. Brother Bean) is in English, but there are translators located around the room who translate what he says in French, German, Polish, Ukraine, etc. He speaks a sentence and then pauses as a Pentecost of speakers erupts, translating what he has just said. It is quite an impressive cacophony of languages.
After the discussion we have small group time. The first day we arranged ourselves in groups of about 8 people, each by common language. In our English group there is a family from England who lives near Cambridge (Fiona and Peter and their three year old son Christopher), a family from the Czech Republic (Yarmilla and Rasheed who is originally from Lebanon and their three young children: Sophie, Alfredo and Edmund), a family from France (a woman named Sicilia and her two teenage daughters) and us (from the United States with just Leif our one year old son… alas, we miss Elijah but we hear that he is doing well with Elisabeth's parents in Canada during this time).
Our conversation is guided with a few questions about the part of the story of Joseph for the day, but it quickly turns to many other topics - health care in our countries, the difficulty of parenting with the challenges of technology (video games and Facebook, etc.), the particular challenges of incorporating spirituality in our occupations (among us there is a doctor of gynecology, an event planner, a music teacher, an interpreter, a consultant for school programs, a conservationist and a pastor), and other miscellaneous topics like what to do if a weasel decides it wants to live in your apartment walls.
At 4:30pm all the families gather (with children) for a half an hour theatrical production (you could call it a "skit") of the Joseph story, which is quite amusing. Then we have about two hours of time in our small groups, but with children this time. We play games, talk more, sing songs and sit outside enjoying the beautiful French countryside, especially with the beautiful weather that we've had so far.
We are grateful for this time of study with which we've been blessed as well as the deep relationships that have been cultivated in this time as part of the Taizé community at Olinda.