A New Community Like Taize in the U.S.?


I'm including a recent letter I wrote to Taize friends on Facebook. I would like to share it with you and hear your thoughts.
Thanks very much!

Greetings Taize friends! I want to ask you a question. But first some background...For the past ten years I have been going to Taize and often accompanying young people there. It has been SO good! But a thought and a prayer has been forming ever since the first visit in 1999. Could something like Taize be born here in the U.S.? A community devoted to simplicity, sharing and celibacy , offering a deep welcome especially to young people. Since then I have traveled the country and Europe and the thought/prayer has only intensified. Do you think that a community of reconciliation, like a Taize community, would be a good thing for the United States? Would you like to see this happening? Why? or Why not? An invitation: if your answer to the above question is yes, then I invite you to consider coming to Rolling Ridge Retreat Center this August for perhaps the beginning of this realization. During August 2009 we will hold a Pilgrimage of Peace. Every day, as in Taize we will sing/pray, share meals, work/ play and share in conversation/teaching about the essentials of peace.For more info contact me at stefan@songsofpeace.net or Bob Sabath at http://www.rollingridge.net/ My website: http://www.songsofpeace.net/
My e-mail: stefan@songsofpeace.net
Bob's email: bsabath@sojo.net

For a full description of the upcoming Pilgrimage of Peace and the story behind it go to:

To listen to some of the music we'll be singing in August go to www.cdbaby.com/cd/sawaligur and www.cdbaby.com/cd/sawaligur2

A closing quote:
'The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his brother



Black Birds, Blackberries, and the Work of Resurrection

Today is Easter Sunday , April 12 , 2009 - a good time for a little reflection. I want to begin in perhaps an unusual way by commending to you the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Irish poet born in 1939 who, among many things , was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Google and youtube his name and unexpected delights are there for your enjoyment. In an attempt to draw out some fresh meaning from the topic of the Resurrection of Jesus, I would direct your attention to two poems by Heaney: first, there is the poem entitled " St. Kevin and the Blackbird; and then - " Black-Berry Picking". If you've ever been to Ireland you know that both Blackbirds and Blackberries are to be found in abundance though the former can be seen at all times of the year , while the latter make their all too brief appearance around August .

So, what do Blackbirds and Blackberries have to do with Jesus' Resurrection? First, like the traditional Christian belief in a physical, bodily resurrection Heaney's two poems, like much of his work, is all about physicality - the deep appreciation of the body with all it's senses. The Blackbird is felt in the palm of St. Kevin's hand ...its " warm eggs, small breast, tucked head and claws..." Kevin's entire body responds to this encounter later in the poem as he holds the little creature " for weeks" until the eggs are hatched. Turning to the poem about blackberries we see something similar. Both pleasure and pain are expressed in these memorable lines: "... You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet, like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it, leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking..." And later... " where briars scratched..and thorns pricked..." This momentarty burst of blackberry life lasts all too short and is cause for the poet to weep.
On to Jesus' resurrection. Remember who saw the first glimpse of the newly alive Jesus? It was Mary as she sat weeping. It was only through tears that she saw the resurrected Jesus. I think sometimes we expect a sanitized Easter - a quick fix, fast and easy resurrection. We forget that Easter and resurrection are a messy business that require being with paradox, longing and the awful waiting. There is work, labor, and even tears that bring about new life and that every time. Whether it's blackbirds and St. Kevin or blackberries in August...For us to experience any of it there is patient, and painstaking work to be done. And, lest we forget - joy in the doing.
The poetry reminds us that resurrection comes through our deepening experience and embrace of everything this world is . The poets and saints have always known this.
So have the black-berry pickers.

Some closing lines from St. Kevin and the Blackbird...

"... Alone and mirrored clear in love's deep river...

to labor and not seek reward...

finding himself linked into the network of eternal life...".

The Blessing of Blackbirds and Blackberries to You
This Resurrection Day,

Stefan Andre


Interior Silence in a Very Noisy World...

A few thoughts on something that is seldom talked about - interior silence. Many of us appreciate the times when all is quiet and we can enjoy a few moments of relative silence giving us opportunity to go within, to think, to feel, to be more aware. When this happens and for some it happens on a regular , daily basis, it is very good. But what about those moments, which can be many, when we cannot avoid the noisiness of the world around us? What then? Is it possible to find that tranquil island within ?
As I sat in my morning quiet time today it was anything but quiet. Outside I could hear workmen drilling, sawing, hammering, and chit-chatting away. Feeling a bit annoyed and momentarily murderous, I was about to give up and postpone my "quiet time" until later in the day when Wally the Workman was done and quiet was restored. At that moment a story came to mind. Do you know this story? It's about St. Bruno and the frogs. It goes something like this:

Once St. Bruno, who was a very devote man, was beginning to pray when he heard the croaking of frogs in a nearby pond. The croaking was disturbing to Bruno who was finding it difficult to concentrate on his prayer so he did something to silence the frogs. Being a very holy man he was able to speak to animals and they understood. So, he raised his voice in one loud command and ordered the frogs to be quiet. They obeyed. When Bruno returned to his praying he was now disturbed by the thought that maybe God enjoyed the croaking of frogs. " Ridiculous", he said. But the disturbing thought remained and grew stronger. Finally Bruno could bear it no longer . He lifted up his voice and apologized to the frogs for his insensitivity and invited them to begin to croak again. This they did with even greater enthusiasm and vocal display. When Bruno returned to his prayer this time , he welcomed the frogs croaking as part of it all and smiled. He realized something. " Everything belongs ", he thought.

This little story reminds me that in our often noisy world we can find interior silence by welcoming everything, even the croaking frogs in our life. With Bruno, we can remember that " Everything belongs."

Stefan Andre