Taize, March 2017

I tucked the candle and its paper drip guard

in the hymnal rack of the pew in front of me

til we sang “Christ Jesus, light of our hearts, we praise you”

and a young girl made her way down the aisle,

lighting the tapers of those at each row’s end.

My friend Beth’s candle burst into flame

and I leaned mine to meet its glowing tip.

My wick, too, sparked to brightness,

burning fast, flame high, wax flowing.

My weary mind fixated on the flame and flow,

And the shrinking of my candle.

The candle—me.

Around me people sang in Spanish:

Nada te turbe/nada te espante/

quien a Dios tiene nada le falta/

nada te turbe/nada te espante/

solo Dios basta.

I translated bits in my mind,

but mostly watched the wax drip, drip, drip.

Melting, lessened, reduced.

Reduced.

Lower, lower it burned.

Then, same song, English words:

Nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten.

Those who seek God will never go wanting.

Nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten.

God alone fills us.

I remembered the Spanish: solo Dios basta

Basta—enough.

We filed to the front,

placed our candles in sand-filled bowls at the foot of the cross,

returned to our seats.

From there I could not see the candles,

But their collective glow lit up the Christ painted on the cross.

Another song began

and the cross was lifted from among the candles

Placed in front of them, flat on the ground.

Come forward, we were invited.

Come to the cross.

The line was long.

I watched the candles.

Many had burned down to nubs,

their flames low in the sand.

Others still stood tall.

My turn.

In the flames’ flicker, the painted face and hands

of the Christ on the cross seemed to move.

When I knelt, put my hand on his,

I almost expected them to clasp together.

Around me voices rose.

The final line washed over me.

Love and do not fear.

Come, Holy Spirit (a reflection from a recent Taize service)

DSC_0883We sat near the front, the great dome of the church almost directly above us. Two wide strips of green fabric crossed the dome, one nearly at its very top, the other just above the rim of the dome. The green signifies “ordinary time” in the Church calendar, the time of hope and growth that follows the Easter season. In Ordinary Time the truths of Good Friday, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost are to move us into renewed life in Christ.

I noticed the green banners as we entered but then forgot about them as the service began.

Midway through it, the children came to light our candles, and the cantor led us in singing a Psalm with Alleluia. Afterwards we walked to the cross and placed our lit candles around it. When I returned to my seat and settled into the silence that followed, I saw movement above me. The rising heat from the candles was billowing the green fabric banner at the rim of the dome. The green cloth rose and fell, twisted and swung. The heat rose higher, and the banner at the top began to sway.

I couldn’t stop watching them. They were alive with candle breath, rippling, their color made deeper, richer with the movement.

They were beautiful.

“Come, Holy Spirit,” I whispered. “Come with Your breath, Your wind, Your flame.”

The banners still swayed when we filed out, and in the car, I asked little Emery, my friend’s daughter, if she’d noticed the waves of green overhead. She had, but didn’t know what caused it. Her mother and I embarked on a science lesson, that heat, rising, disrupts the cooler air, causes currents.

It’s been several days now, but I can still picture those billowing banners. Luke 24:32 comes to mind. The two disciples who walked the road to Emmaus with a risen and un-recognized Christ have just realized the identity of their traveling companion. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked … and opened the Scriptures to us?” they said.

The Holy Scriptures…

Fanned into flame by the presence of God.

Come, Holy Spirit, like a tongue of fire, a violent wind, a breath, and fan into flame the Living Word.

And with the heat that rises,

Stir me,

Disrupt me,

Move me.