April 09, 2012 / by / 0 Comment


The Taizé community is an ecumenical monastic order with a strong devotion to peace and justice through prayer and meditation….  Prayer and silence are at the heart of the Taizé experience. Young people from every corner of the globe are encouraged to live out the Christian gospel in a spirit of joy, simplicity and reconciliation.
Source: BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/priests/taize_1.shtml)

I had my first Taizé experience last Tuesday evening at St. Mary’s Church (Causeway Bay).  I walked into the church, skeptical, and needing the bathroom.  A bare, wooden cross draped in red cloth stood at the altar, before lit tea candles.  Nobody spoke.  I scurried sideways between the pews to get from one end to another, the contents of my pockets clonking against the wooden bench.  When returned from the ladies’ room, hair appropriately tousled and makeup fixed, I saw a familiar face whom I greeted in a manner that seemed too casual for the occasion.  I cast down my exceptionally heavy tote next to my seat.  I must have caused too much noise, because Mr. Xunshine (Mr. X) did not look happy.

The altar.

Before the worship began, we rehearsed some prayer chants with Rev. Vincent, but no one really sang.  I was nervous because Mr. X was sitting next to me, and he loved to comment on people’s singing.  He gets to be cocky about these things because he can sing.  And I can’t sing sing.  I kept quiet for the most part, but eventually joined in the actual worship in a somewhat pitchy voice.  A murmur spread across the congregation as we began to chant.

At some point, a candle was passed around so we could light our own candles.  Everyone lit theirs with ease, but for some weird reason, my wick remained bare after what must have been a dozen attempts.  I grew pretty frustrated (wasn’t God supposed to “light” my way?), and helped light the candle of the guy sitting behind me instead.

Rev. Vincent lighting someone's candle.

The service went on with everyone’s candles glowing – except mine.  There were several breaks in between chants for us to sit in meditative silence.  I loved the contemplative vibe and was scribbling in my notebook pretty much the whole time.  I don’t know if I was supposed to do that, but it was better than scrolling through social networking applications on my phone.  Near the beginning of the service, I was caught on camera doing just that:

Me on my phone.

The oddly comforting music got me back on track and I joined the congregation in the meditation on love and truth.  I was grateful for the temporary escape from modern life.  People today are generally too preoccupied with making a living, studying to land highly-paid jobs, and socializing to prove their worth.  They forget what it’s like to make a life, to return to the basics where the essence of every human being lies.  Whether it’s a soul, a consciousness, or an atom to you, there is something within each of us that defines us.  It’s not about how much money we own, how many followers we have on Twitter, or how perfectly chiseled our bodies are – it’s about who we really are, inside, that really matters, because no one can take it away from us.  Taizé gave me an opportunity to – Christian worship aside – explore the “untainted” side of me that values love, peace and justice.

Although I still couldn’t help but fuss with more practical issues, such as the unnecessarily cold air con, and the way people spoke so softly during prayer that I seriously doubted God could hear them, I remained relatively calm.  So serene that I barely noticed when Mr. X lit my candle.  It went out, eventually, but for the brief moment that it was lit, it was beautiful.


*All photos were provided by Mr. Chang Man Yuen.