Jill and I travelled to Taize late in the twentieth century as part of our three month tour of Europe.
I felt this tour was a kind of pilgrimage in which we visited key landmarks in spirituality, both ancient and modern. For example, we visited Canterbury Cathedral where we were invited to take the bread and wine to the altar in the procession during the offertory. I had that remarkable feeling of walking in the footsteps of countless generations right back to Chaucer’s time and Thomas A’Beckett.
We went north to pilgrimage sites of Lindisfarne on one side of Britain and Iona on the other. Both sites are credited with hosting those monks who designed the extraordinary Gospels with Celtic designs. At Iona, we searched out the beehive remains of Columba’s retreat. Columba arrived on Iona’s white sandy beaches with 12 followers in 563 CE, built his first Celtic church and established a monastic community. I knew of Iona through a good friend, Rev Cliff Wright who helped George MacLeod in a small way re-establish the Iona community with its sixth century monastery.
We searched out our Celtic roots by visiting Cornwall and happening on a 300 year celebration of John Wesley’s ministry to the Cornish miners at a place called Gwennap Pit. Ironically they used Burl Ives country and western music in the lead up to this important event. From England we explored some great sites in France, including Notre Dame, and its sister cathedral at Chartres. I was impressed with both Cathedrals built in the Gothic spirit in the thirteenth century, particularly with Chartres with its extraordinary stained glass and the Labyrinth.
I became deeply interested in labyrinths on my return to Australia and had a hand in creating one on a friend’s property at Rye. Then on to Taize, where Jill and I spent a week enjoying the extraordinary contemplative ministry that we explored in last Sunday’s service.
I was therefore very happy to hear that Trude and Tom had also gone to Taize and brought their interest to our worship life.