Service provides a moment of peace

Published 6:30 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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By Rachel Campbell

Rev. George Favell eloquently describes the Taizé ceremony as: “An experience that allows (people) to appreciate the benefit of being intentionally silent.”

This candle-lit, hour-long ceremony, held at Christ Episcopal Church Thursday night, stands out for its unique blend of quiet meditation, silent contemplation, and communal activities like chanting, reading, and affirmations.

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Soft music played while attendants sat still, their eyes shut, and their minds free. Many were welcomed calmly at the doors of Christ Episcopal Church.

The ceremony began with a profound silence, followed by the chants and readings. The affirmations, often concise and meaningful, are repeated to create a deeply meditative atmosphere. Favell starts the service by reading and helping others focus on the main idea of relaxation with the words: “Sometimes I like to picture a door within my heart and allow it to open.” 

For many, Taizé is a unique path to spiritual reconnection, a healing moment, and a sanctuary that offers solace and comfort.

Similar to the Evensong service, Taizé is a sanctuary that warmly embraces all, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs. It opens its doors without any pressure for conversion, focusing primarily on meditation and providing a space for everyone to find solace. This inclusivity is not just a feature but a fundamental aspect of the Taizé experience, making it a haven for all.

From the perspective of an observer, attending a Taizé ceremony is a transformative journey.

“It’s a moment of tranquility, my blood pressure eases, and it’s captivating,” said Christ Episcopal member Sue Grove.

Taizé can shift people’s focus from the analytical left brain to the creative right brain, fostering a positive change in attitude and mood. It’s a unique experience held twice a year, offering a beacon of hope and inspiration and inviting us to explore the depths of our spirituality.

Many people are grieving, struggling mentally and spiritually, or just want a moment to sit and take in the quiet. Some people try to meditate on their own but are still surrounded by chaos.

The Taizé, the creation of Brother Roger Schütz, a Swiss Protestant, was founded in Provence, Switzerland in 1915. In 1940, Schütz embarked on a journey to Taizé, France, feeling as if the souls from World War II were beckoning him.

He cycled 240 miles from Geneva to Taizé and the community became a beacon of hope for the many souls suffering from the war; a sanctuary not just for the community but also for the soldiers who battled mental anguish.

Schütz envisioned a more profound way to live as a Christian and did so by forming a monastic community.

Today, Taizé stands as a revered destination and is considered one of the most significant sites of Christian pilgrimage, particularly for the youth. Its rich history and enduring legacy connects people to a tradition of seeking solace and spiritual growth. Over 100,000 people come from across the world to visit Taizé and immerse themselves in the community.

Like the other 100,000 people, Favell was the same. He wanted to spread the idea of Taizé anywhere he went.

Favell was raised in an Episcopal church. He stated he was always spiritually inclined and wanted to share the Taizé form of meditation.

However, Favell did have a spiritual crisis at the age of 17, a period of deep questioning and doubt about his faith. He decided to do something about his crisis by profiting from Christ and studying the Bible. He later got a degree in theology and soon went overseas on a religious mission. He became a deacon in 1984, and leads others into ministry and focuses outside the church’s walls.

Favell’s goal is not to convert people to any one religion but to give people a feeling of what meditation feels like. His favorite part about the service is how the Mediation feels afterward.

“The silence after doing it for so long, and then getting the feedback from the people who attend,” he said.

Favell did not know Taizé would become a success until  35-40 people showed up to his very first ceremony.

His journey, marked by doubt, faith, and a deep connection to Taizé, is a testament to the transformative power of this spiritual practice.

If you are interested in future Taizé ceremonies, contact Christ Episcopal Church at 507-433-3782.