this is something that has really alluded me this week. i have had such a hard time taking in everything from my time overseas. there are lots of little things, and some bigger ones--but none of them really are worth sharing too much i don't think. and i don't really want to write a run down of everything that we did. that is just not very interesting. so maybe i'll just write what comes to me and fill in between with various pictures and perhaps that will make it somewhat engaging.
i suppose i'll start with paris. it's always a mixed bag for me when i visit an old famous city in europe like this. i love it--there is so much that i love, but i always feel as if the whole tourist thing isn't worth it. a lot of the things i do i do or see just to say that i've done or seen it. not all, but some. and it is so rushed it is hard to really enjoy everything and take it all in. there is too much. you are only able to absorb so much. there were a few paintings i really took in, felt something from. it's hard running around those museums though--there is just so much.
i really did love sitting under the eiffel tower at night though. that was relaxing and just really nice to take in. that felt like paris of course. even as touristy as it is, out in the fields in front it was pretty empty and it felt like you would go there even if you lived in paris.
st. chappelle was also incredible. it was unlike any other church/chapel i have seen in europe. truly extraordinary.
taizé. well, this was quite a week there. if any of you have the good fortune of making it to europe any time, i deeply encourage you to make a visit to this place. it was far and away more than any place i went, more rich, more giving, more meaning. it was my favorite of any place i went to. there are just so many unique and good things about it that is so different from doing the tourist stuff anywhere else you go. really it is hard to explain why. but most people i know who have gone always want to go back, and they usually find a way to do so. whereas most cities i visit i think i probably won't return to directly or for that sole purpose. i think that says a lot. but again, it can't really be conveyed in words.
it was certainly a pilgrimage of sorts for me. a short one perhaps, but one none the less. i wonder how people feel when they take a pilgrimage. i think for them it's usually much more in the journey. because it seems like the fulfillment of it--actually reaching the place you were seeking doesn't deliver. it doesn't and can't live up to all that you were hoping from it. like it should change your life or something.
was i expecting this trip to change my life? well, in a way, yes. i wanted it to mark the end of a season. i wanted it to bookend the last time i was in taizé, which was the beginning of something. can we control such things? does simply going back to the same place mean that it will have a similar significance? of course not. but it was and still is somewhat my hope. not to seal something off and shelve it away. no. but rather to be freed to begin something new. to put away a time of hurt stemming from disappointment and loss and idolatry. to begin a season of joy. not because everything is better and situations fall in line with my desires, but through a death of the self that held onto all of that too much.
"If in all things I consider only the heat and the cold, the food or the hunger, the sickness or labor, the beauty or pleasure, the success and failure or the material good or evil my works have won for my own will, I will find only emptiness and not happiness. I shall not be fed, I shall not be full. For my food is the will of Him Who made me and Who made all things in oder to give Himself to me through them.
My chief care should not be to find pleasure or success, health or life or money or rest or even things like virtue and wisdom--still less their opposties, pain, failure, sickness, death. But in all that happens my one desire and my one joy should be to know: 'Here is the thing that God has willed for me. In this His love is found, and in accepting this I can give back His love to Him and give myself with it to Him.
And by accepting all things from Him I receive His joy into my soul, not because things are what they are but because God is Who He is, and His love has willed my joy in them all."
i prayed for that. i walked myself through a good friday prayer time, placing myself before the cross and laying it all down. dwelling in that place. then experiencing the symbolism of the resurrection through candlelight. i know it's a process too. but i think God did a lot in me through those services and through the week, not through a lot of quiet alone time with him, but through the blessing of some great connections with people from across the world. that was such a fun surprise. i think God just wanted me to enjoy them and that time--not wrestle so much or put such a weight on it all. the effect is less cerebral then and harder to explain, but just as significant if not more i think. that will take more time to understand probably.
it was also good from the perspective of observing people who live by a rule of life for Jesus. those of us moving to kc this summer look to do a similar thing in a new monastic way, so it was really informative to be in that community. there is something to having a daily rhythm of prayer. it feeds the soul in a unique way. it raises lots of questions about how we live, how we seek to live, and how that can be possible in the midst of the world we know and live in (i didn't say "real life" because this common phrase has so many assumptions and so much wrong with it). our community will spend the next couple of months (read: years) wrestling through those questions. we were also able to share our plans with quite a few people there, which always made for interesting conversations.
it was so great to go on this trip with 3 of my brothers. i loved sharing this experience with them. it will be something we will always remember.
well i suppose that is what i have to offer from my trip. i received much more than that, but this is all i can really say now i think. so ask me more in person. or better yet start planning your own trip over there! it's easy.