Thursday, August 27, 2009

Be still and know that I am God.

You know how there times when you crave to hear certain kinds of music? It could be the season or the mood, the need for energy or relaxation, but whatever the reason there's just the right kind of music for that particular moment in time.

Lately, for me, it's been the songs of Taize.

Taize is actually a very modern ecumenical monastic order in Taize, France (founded in the 1960s). But what is distinctive about this Christian community is its meditative style of worship that combines silence with sacred choral music and short readings that are intended to calm the soul so that you can experience a moment with God. It is prayer without words. And yet it is also not prayer in solitude or isolation. The Taize experience is actually built around the community, a shared experience, even in silence.

My church in Toronto practiced Taize once and awhile, as the part of the worship during our Sunday services. It was incredibly refreshing, albeit often much too short. We'd sing a Taize song, read a prayer, and sit in silence for a while. But then the service would continue on and the busy-ness of life would pick up again.

I guess right now I crave silence and meditation because life has gotten pretty hectic for me and I've had a lot on my mind. While I like being busy and having things to do, checklists to cross off and tasks to accomplish, I also enjoy quiet times. Unfortunately, when life gets busy like this, my quiet times often turn into wasted down time, either in front of the TV or puttering about while listening to the radio or to music. I don't actually take time to be silent. I guess this is why Taize has been on my mind lately. Silence is a very hard discipline to practice. You have to be intentional about it, and set aside time and energy (because sleeping doesn't count) to practice silence. And you have to stop talking.

I really like what the Taize website says about the value of silence:
Sometimes we are apparently silent, and yet we have great discussions within, struggling with imaginary partners or with ourselves. Calming our souls requires a kind of simplicity: "I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me." Silence means recognising that my worries can’t do much. Silence means leaving to God what is beyond my reach and capacity. A moment of silence, even very short, is like a holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries.

Read the whole article here.

I know that a lot of my friends who may follow my blog aren't the churchy type, and that's fine. I still think there is a lot of value in taking time to be silent and for meditation in whatever form you may see fit (introspective, retrospective, or maybe even extrospective).

I close with this last thought, again from the Taize website:
When words and thoughts come to an end, God is praised in silent wonder and admiration.

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