Life in Community

Taizé Weekend at the Bruderhof

March 20, 2018 by

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. “Where charity and love are, God is there.” The song rings through my head and sings itself again and again in my heart. It captures the essence of our recent weekend gathering here at Darvell: Taizé at the Bruderhof.

Our excitement grew exponentially as the list of participants lengthened in the months leading up to the conference. The event began in earnest Friday evening with cars sloshing up the drive through a gentle spring rain and our local train hooting its arrival in Robertsbridge through the darkness of early evening. Informal discussions on faith, life, culture, family, and community (which continued at a lively pace all weekend) began immediately as the weekend participants from Europe and their hosts from Darvell made their way to their accommodations. Backpacks and sleeping bags were hastily tossed aside in favor of a hot cup of tea and several cookies, the irresistible variety replete with chocolate chips.

After a welcome dinner it was time for our first Taizé prayer of the weekend. Candlelight, singing, prayer, silence – beautiful simplicity. Ten minutes of complete silence in a room full of people can be a unifying experience. In the absence of words, there we all were together, as diverse a collection of believers as you are likely to find. A psalm was spoken, we sang simple songs, their concise phrases echoing over and over, and we prayed the Lord’s Prayer.

Saturday morning, most people were up by five thirty. Participants enjoyed breakfast with host families from the community. Discussions thrived over toast and mugs of coffee. Then came some work: spreading woodchips around shrubs, weeding in the greenhouses, and peeling potatoes in the kitchen. Muddy hands and great conversation.

Work was followed by an introductory talk about the Bruderhof and its history, given by several Darvell community members. Then Brother Paulo from Taizé shared about his community’s monastic life and origins. The day continued with Bible discussion groups, lunch, a Taizé midday prayer, visits to elderly members of the community, and recreational activities such as hiking and sports.

Then some thought-provoking workshops: one lead by Peter Hopper of Open Doors, a charity that supports the persecuted church worldwide, and another led by Bruderhof member Bernard Hibbs focusing on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We ended the day with dinner, followed by Iraqi and Israeli folk dancing and a Taizé evening prayer, part of which was dedicated to the war-torn country of Syria.

The conference concluded on Sunday with a children’s meeting at which a one-week-old baby was welcomed to her first communal gathering. We then met to reflect on what we’d experienced throughout the weekend. Representatives from the Community of St Anselm, L’Arche, and other church groups told how they live out their faith. Especially challenging and inspiring was hearing from a Syrian Christian about the persecuted church in her country and the tremendous forgiveness and faith of these believers, which has been tested countless times.

These words from Mother Teresa, which someone read in our closing meeting, sum up what we all felt we are called to do as we ended the conference and continued on our various journeys:

What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there; he is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize him.

Interested in your own weekend at the Bruderhof? Click here.

  Caitlin lives at Darvell, a Bruderhof in England. Comments

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  • Another good article, and what a powerful awesome quote from Mother Theresa, that I had not heard or read.

    Stewart McCabe
  • Please let me know if a Taizé event ever visits the Bruderhof at Beechgrove (England). I would so love to attend.

    Judith Scollard
  • Hi Clifton, great question. Prayer is really important to us, and we generally try to keep it simple and genuine. I’ll just quote a section from "Foundations of our Faith and Calling," which you can find in full on our website. “Prayer is the lifeblood of church community, both in the personal life of each member and in daily communal gatherings. When we pray together we must approach God humbly. Spoken prayers are simple. We have no liturgies, no consecrated buildings, but want to worship “in spirit and truth.” We often meet outdoors where the beauty of nature lifts our hearts and reminds us of the greatness of our Creator. Prayer can take many forms. Silent prayer is an essential part of our common life. We also recognize the importance of voluntary fasting (by adults) as a form of intensified prayer. In addition, singing and music can be a form of prayer. Many of the songs we sing might not appear to be religious at all – songs about nature or love may best express what moves our hearts and so bring honor to God, the maker of all things.” Best, Alina McPherson

    Alina McPherson
  • How does the Bruderhof pray?

    Clifton Folsom