A service of Taizé at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church

Last night I went to Dupage Unitarian Universalist Church because I found out via their Facebook page that they were going to have a Taizé service.

Taizé is usually a gathering that has elements of chanting, candle lighting, responsive reading, shared silence, and some form of a guided meditation.

In fact, the Taizé service I was a part of incorporated all of these elements. Initially I was a bit thrown off by the shared silence, but I was quickly relieved because despite several shared silence’s, they were no more than five minutes a piece. That I can do (and maybe someday I can level up to Quaker status).

The opening chant went as follows; come, come, whoever you are, wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. Ours is no caravan of despair. Come, yet again, come. (SLT #188)

I found beauty in this chant, and I did what I could to figure out which part of “whoever you are” most aligned with, I believe in that instance I was a “wanderer” and maybe perhaps I am that still.

From there a candle was lit in the center of our gathering. Apart from the dusk setting in quickly, the candle was a nice centering item for when my eyes were open.

Given that our shared silence time wasn’t that long, I found myself more engaged as a result. I mentally prepared myself for the night by mentally chanting a Latin phrase I’ve picked up in my own studying and partaking in Taizé; veni sancte spiritus, come holy spirit.

The highlight of my evening partaking in the service was the guided meditation. Our guide led us (with nature sounds in the background) into a deeper place found within. It’s hard to put into words, but I lived there and thrived there, it may have felt like a lifetime but in actuality it was probably twenty minutes altogether. I caught myself crying a little, because it was beautiful to simply be aligned mind+body+spirit, to simply BE.

After the service I made my way to the labyrinth that’s outside the building. The above picture is from that, as the path is illuminated when the sun is no longer out. It was another wave of much needed introspection and silence entwined. I took my time and meditated all the while, mentally chanting veni sancte spiritus.

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Unfortunately they’re going to be taking a break from this service until October. Until then I’ll have to partake in Taizé on my own or find others to do it with. It’s not often that I am stirred so deeply, so passionately, but I am willing to engage that deeper part of me that resides in the silence.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Why I take and make time to pray

As I think about it, my 2 favorite quotes about prayer are as follows:

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me. – C.S. Lewis

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and I asked him to forgive me. – Emo Phillips

Now I won’t say that C.S. Lewis’ polar opposite is Emo Phillips, but they certainly aren’t bedfellows. But despite their differences there’s something to be said about what their take on prayer is. C.S. Lewis’ reason for praying is one of recognizing his utter helplessness and dependency upon God, prayer is about him changing and not necessarily God. Emo Phillips’ take on prayer is one that says (satirically) that sometimes prayer isn’t enough, social action needs to be paired with what we offer up to God, and maybe that in itself is how our prayer gets answered (granted, stealing a bike isn’t right, but it is a clever analogy of prayer combined with social action).

Now when I think about the reasons why I pray, I think my number one reason is because if prayer is communication with God and all relationships are dependent on communication, why wouldn’t I want to talk to God and take time to be in his presence and even take time to listen. I also pray because I need a father figure in my life, and honestly God’s a lot closer to me than my father, I feel his presence and love and comfort in a world, my personal world, which at times feels completely FUBAR.

I usually address God as Father God due to some discomfort with the word “dad” due to my situation, but I am fine with others calling God “dad” or “Abba” or something else. I tend to avoid “Thanksgiving prayer” vernacular and length, I usually speak from the heart or the gut. The Psalmist David was at times all shot and no chaser, I too let God “have it” with my prayers, I’m glad he can handle what I have to say because sometimes he’sthe onlyone who can handle it…and who better than God, the creator of everything, to handle it all. 🙂

The other day at the church where I help out with the high school youth group, the leader & my friend of 18 years, Ben H led the students and the leaders into a time of prayer, quiet/silent prayer. It’s not the first time he’s led prayer in this way and it can be unnerving and unraveling to pray in silence. If we had more time I probably could’ve gotten lost (in a good way) in the silence, but we only did it for a brief while. It was good to pray in this way, and it was very encouraging to get feedback from the guy group as to what they thought about praying in this manner, some could handle it and some could not, but I think that every now and then it needs to be practiced whether it can be done or not, trying in this case matters whether one is successful or not.

Prayer is a vital part of my life, and like C.S. Lewis prayer primarily changes me and then God and like Emo Phillips prayer isn’t considering God to be a genie that grants my prayers as if they were wishes, sometimes the answers to my prayers is me by way of social justice and related. For these reasons and others I continue to pray.

~Nathanael~