Taize: A Strange But Beautiful Mix.
One of the amazing things about Taize is the mix of people from all over the world. Taize has always at its core been a youth movement, and even now in the off-season of April, the vast majority of the 650 or so people here are under 30, and many of these are teenagers. As a result, it can sometimes feel a bit like a summer camp, though a distinctly multi-ethnic summer camp with lots of monks wandering around. During one of the daily tea times, a group of kids sat down at my table. The five of them were from three different countries; Russia, Germany, and France. This is typical. My sister rooms with a 20 year old girl from South Korea here for four months. We often sit at lunch with a middle-aged couple from Hong Kong. One of my roommates is a 40-something year old man from the South of France, returning to Taize after 17 years. He hopes to find a refreshed direction in life. Another woman in our group is from France and has no church background, but was drawn here in the hope of finding "peace, goodwill, and community." Still another man I met is walking from Paris to Assisi on his three month break from teaching. He is the second person I've met who's walked all the way to Jerusalem on a previous pilgrimage! He was also wearing the exact shoes I own for hiking/walking, so I figure that's a good sign.
The worship services are also a mix of languages. The Bible readings are always read in at least two different languages, usually French and English. The songs rotate between French, German, English, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, and other languages I can't immediately identity.
Here at Taize it's a strange, eclectic mix of ages, languages, and backgrounds.
Strange but beautiful.