I was fortunate again this year to have a chance to spend a week in the Taize community in France, and what a joy it was! For those not in the know, it is a ecumenical community that exists to promote 'reconciliation between nations', and encourages young people to come together from different nations and spend time in discussion, worship and silence.
It is famous for its style of worship, involving chants which are sung repetitively in an almost trancelike fashion. But Taize is much more than it's music - and it is in the simplicity of life in the community that counts - eating together, sharing in all the tasks, meeting each day in small groups and discussing the bible. Quiet reflection is valued and encouraged.
One of the most moving times in the Church of Reconciliation was on Thursday evening, when a group of pilgrims from Palestine were invited to get up and sing the Lord's Prayer in Arabic. This was followed by a lengthy and warm round of applause which went on for an age. There were also prayers for the victims of the plane downed in the Ukraine - many of the victims came from Holland, and there were many Dutch pilgrims at Taize.
To see 3000 young people come together to pray for peace - and realise that most of those people will leave Taize and try to be peacemakers in their own communities is a very powerful sign of hope in the world. My own limited time of silence over the week was enough to make me realise that peace making in our homelands is costly and requires the difficult ingredient of forgiveness - but it desperately needs doing.
My hope is that the light of God's love I rediscovered in Taize, can burn bright within me as I try to be a peacemaker close to my own home. A special thank you is sent to all the inspiring people that I met!
If you've not been before - do consider a week there soon (coaches leave Birmingham and London each Saturday during the summer) It really is the perfect way to work out what God might be calling you to do with our life!