The Spirituality of Taizé
Reflections by Michaelene Miller,
Devon Dundee, Blake Tierney,
and Jay McDaniel
In this century, and in any century,
Our deepest hope, our most tender prayer,
Is that we learn to listen.
May we listen to one another in openness and mercy
May we listen to plants and animals in wonder and respect
May we listen to our own hearts in love and forgiveness
May we listen to God in quietness and awe.
And in this listening,
Which is boundless in its beauty,
May we find the wisdom to cooperate
With a healing spirit, a divine spirit,
Who beckons us into peace and community and creativity.
We do not ask for a perfect world.
But we do ask for a better world.
We ask for deep listening.
- Jay McDaniel, in Life Prayers from Around the World, edited by Amidon & Roberts
In historical Christianity there are two kinds of prayer. One is the kind of prayer most of us grow up with. It is called the prayer of address. We think of God as a living subject -- an Eternal Thou -- whom we address in praise and lamentation, hope and protest, confession and thanksgiving. We address God with words and feelings, sighs and deeds.
As we address God we also try to listen to God, to hear the promptings of God within our own hearts. The promptings can come as inwardly felt possibilities for taking a next step in life. Rarely do these callings come in words. More usually they come as feelings.
The other kind of prayer is called contemplative prayer. Imagine that you are sitting next to someone whom you love and whom you have known for a long time. Perhaps it is an autumn night and you are on a couch, gazing into a fire, arm in arm. In this moment there is no need to say anything; there is no need to communicate a message. Nor is there a need to listen for guidance on taking a next step. You are where you want to be and it is enough to be together, in the silence and the listening. This feeling of being here and now, in the silence and the listening, is contemplative prayer. Here God is not so much a subject being addressed as God is the the holy communion of listening.
The mood of contemplative prayer can also be present as you listen to other people, When you really listen to someone in a non-judgmental way, when you allow their thoughts and feelings to become part of you, you are in a contemplative spirit. You are not distracted; you are not on your way toward something else; you are not checking your email. You are here, with them.
One purpose of Taize is to help people find a contemplative dimension of our lives. It is to help them - us -- enter into a listening mode, and thus to know the listening side of love. In the listening we do not lapse into a sameness; instead we fall in love with the differences. Each person takes on a special kind of beauty. For some Christians, this listening is a way of participating in God. God is the Deep Listening in whom we live and move and have our being. God is the light of each candle and the depth from which all candles emerge, life by life, light by light.
Taize is a place to hear the callings and, in certain moments, see the light.