Contemplative prayer comes in all sorts of postures and programs, but the type to which I return I first encountered at a workshop. Taizé worship was developed by an ecumenical Christian monastic community in Taizé, France. There were dimmed lights, beautiful icons, and fabrics throughout the worship space and a candle for each participant.
While I was familiar with some Taizé songs, I had not heard them sung in a chanting style. While I had lit a candle on Christmas Eve, I had never quietly placed my candle together with those of others in a container of sand, reflecting the power of our combined lights, our combined prayers.
Sometimes there were long silences – the kind that make you squirm until you finally give up and listen to your own breathing. I learned how easily I could fidget or become distracted, yet how brief Bible passages, proclaimed in multiple languages, helped me to re-center in the now. I learned how to focus on the large icons and cross bathed in candlelight. I learned there is nothing like being a group of silent, praying people.
This message is excerpted from “In the stillness” by Betty E. Landis in the July/August 2018 Gather magazine. Today is the festival of the Presentation of our Lord. Today is Groundhog Day.
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