Together with colleagues from across East Lothian, Anikó takes regular turns in offering a reflection in the East Lothian Courier. Here is this week's piece:
Last week, I spent a day in Glasgow at COP, with two brothers of the Taizé Community in France. They participated in COP fringe events, and together with local church groups offered daily ecumenical lunchtime and evening prayers, as well as a big vigil.
The Taizé Community started about 80 years ago in a tiny village in Burgundy, as a simple ecumenical and international community of brothers, a modern-day monastery. What’s special about it is that over the years, more and more young people have come to Taizé, with now (in non-covid times, that is) thousands of young people from all over the world joining the brothers each week, to experience this shared living, to discuss the big questions of life, and simply to pray together. While a religious community, there are no sermons: just singing, praying, and a time of silence in each of the three daily prayer times. It might sound counterintuitive and yet, it still attracts and inspires young people. I spent a year as volunteer there, when I was just out of uni (quite a long time ago now), and for me, it was life-changing. Like Iona, experiencing it does something to you: the infamous saying for Iona is that you’d go there looking for peace and quiet, and return looking for peace and justice – so inspired are many of those visiting by what they experience there.
Why are so many still inspired by these places of prayer, and why would two brothers come all the way to Glasgow to pray during COP26? I can only venture at an answer: because taking time to pray can connect us with something bigger and with the world around us. In prayer, we can focus on what moves us, on what we worry about, on what we are thankful for. We might name the people and questions about which we care. Prayer can remind us that we’re not alone in caring about things, that we’re connected with others. Ideally, prayer and action go hand in hand: what we see and do in our daily lives can inform and shape our prayers, and in turn, praying can inspire and encourage us, can strengthen us into action, into trying to make a difference. And that Taizé vigil last week in Glasgow, with people gathered from many walks of life, with voices joining together and the light of candles spreading through the building, was simply beautiful.