VIDEO: Taizé Cape Town 2019 – A personal reflection

I resisted requests to write about the Taizé Pilgrimage of Trust 2019 in Cape Town, because it is difficult to put such a pilgrimage into words, writes Tinus van Zyl. 

I was afraid that I will somehow taint the experience by trying to put words to it. At the heart of Taizé is silence and only in silence can Taizé truly be experienced. Hopefully the pictures will say more than my words.

 To begin with, it was wonderful that three churches in Durbanville: a Catholic, Anglican and Dutch Reformed church (my congregation), could work together to host pilgrims coming from afar. Just that fact was already a witness to the unity of the church.

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 Taizé not only helped me to experience the unity of the church, but also to appreciate the diversity of the church. Just the simple action of pilgrims standing on the pulpit of my Dutch Reformed church and reading from the Bible in Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa, Sesotho, isiZulu, Setswana, siSwati, Kiswahili and even German, was profound beyond words.

 I had the privilege of attending three workshops by Brother Alois, the prior of the community of Taizé. One afternoon we had a deep discussion about Holy Communion and how it still divides Christians instead of uniting us.

 Therefore it was such a wonderful joy for me to invite twenty pilgrims coming from different churches to the table of communion during our Sunday service and to serve the sacrament of Holy Communion to them.

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 Another thing that touched me deeply during this pilgrimage was the realisation how much my faith is rooted in Africa. Songs like Ukuthula, Thuma mina and especially Modimo, really moved me in a way I can not fully describe or explain.

 I was surprised and overwhelmed by the deep stirrings of the Spirit that these songs created in a mysterious location of my soul. I do not know where or what this place inside my spirit is, nor where its origins lie. But something of the African continent moved in me. 

Here is a short video clip from a song practice. Modimo reboka Wena (God we praise You) | Tsohle dietswe keWena (Everything was made by You)

 Receiving a pilgrim in our house, was also a great honour for our little family. Something as simple as sitting on the stoep (porch) and drinking some tea after a very long and tiresome day, chatting about the events of the day, was just lovely. Having a Sunday lunch together and my children building a puzzle with our guest were small moments of grace. 

 My last reflection is very personal. It was wonderful to make new friends across boundaries and barriers. But it was also a sheer joy to do all with this with my colleague and friend, Wynand Breytenbach.