We have come down the corridors of time laden with endless histories on our backs. For me, the histories are of depressed mothers and disempowered grandmothers, of shadowy stories rife with betrayals and secrets, loving and loyalties long ago woven into the fabric of the quilts I have inherited. I am stilled not only by the sheer weight of them all, but by the honor and terror it is for me to continue with the baton in my hand, for my story too is woven into and along with a community of life stories intersecting and mirroring mine. The question dogs me. How is it I can walk worthy of the generations before me, worthy of my daughters' generation, and the generation yet to be born, worthy of the gift of my life pulsating in me right now.
Let's see if I can make this clear to myself. I have come this far far journey into a place of unknowing with generations past praying for me and I still know very little about how and where to walk? Sometimes walking isn't even the action. Sometimes its tiptoeing, or feeling around in the dark, or inching along on my knees, and then out of sheer anxiety I get up and run a little, but often to nowhere that feels significant. It seems sometimes that I am literally frightened into practicing the stillness of discernment.
Actually our silence is the first step toward "seeing" how it is we walk, and in what direction, and with whom. "Whoa," you say, "I know what it feels like to be silent...that's when all my inner voices begin to clamor; the judge, my girlhood voice, my needs, my whine, my controller, organizer, narcissist, worrier...and my physical pain, to name a multitude!!"
Well, let's think of it this way: What if I put myself in a place where I can be with others, and there is a bit of a format to distract just enough, and maybe quiet me down to another level of myself that still feels safe, and quiet my body enough so that my mind has to follow suit. Then I begin to listen. Not to my voices, but to the larger voice of the community, and beyond to a larger voice of the Universe. This is the beginning of prayer. Not my petitions and requests, but listening for the prayers which God will gift me. I can hear your question, "You mean we don't do our own prayers?"
Yes, and no. However may I suggest that first we listen; to experience God's gifts of prayer to us by using all of our senses, to still our hearts and minds so that through the stillness of the prayers we might have a look at the work thrust upon us by former and future generations. And through practice we might trust the stillness to provide fruit and fuel, so that bit by bit we may begin to see clearly enough to walk through our days.
The format we're describing is a simple worship service of prayer where chant moves us from a place of understanding concepts of faith in God, to a place in our souls where we experience those concepts of faith in God. Thusly, our walking feels more worthy, more significant, more connected to the whole of our own lives, as well as to our communities. The name of the service we all know, is Taize, named after a small town in France, whose ministry of prayer is worldwide.
Every other month first Friday, Napa Valley Taize has been praying together for 25 years. We've found a home in the Carmelite Monastery in Oakville. There we also provide a labyrinth for those who would like another kind of prayer experience.
Come with your questions and experience the quiet of praying individually within community, through chants, scripture, candlelight, and silence. Come. We offer this quiet filling station of respite on your journey toward wholeness.