Monday, 31 August 2009

Another cat?

We have yet another cat at La Tuilerie. When we came back from working at a client’s house on Friday 7th August, there was a message on the answering machine announcing that it was my birthday (normally celebrated on 20th September) and that I should ring the caller urgently to arrange collection or delivery of my present. FifiI went round in the car and Cees on the bike to be presented with a beautiful kitten that some friends had found in their village. She was one of the many stray cats that roam the village and beg at summer tables. Our friends asked the neighbour who was feeding her if she had any objection to the little thing being adopted, which she didn't and so when our friends saw her again, they picked her up and put her in their cat cage awaiting collection.

To make sure she stayed here, we kept her in the cage, but after a day it did seem rather cruel, so we bought a harness and lead and took her for walks during the day time and back in the cage at night. Quite unusually for a stray cat she loves being cuddled and played with and she is very tame indeed. Now she is off the lead and roams around all day and shows no intention of leaving, well we hope not. At night she goes back into the cage, she is still very small and we are afraid that she might get lost in the dark.

Fifi 2The latest new step has been to find her a permanent place to sleep, we have decided on the “water room” ie the room where the hot water boiler is, as this is always warm even when it is way below zero outside. So Cees installed a cat flap in the door and we have had fun the last few days tempting her to go through the flap. As long as the flap is slightly open she will go through, but we haven’t managed to get her to open it herself yet. She is still in her cage at night (now in the water room) so she doesn’t need to use the flap just yet, but soon she’ll be completely free to roam day and night and before then she will have to have figured it out.

After a lot of discussion, debate and international phone calls (to Mum in London and my brother and family in Brussels) she has been named Fifi. She even looks your way sometimes if you call her name.

Fifi has been here now for nearly a whole month and she shows no sign of leaving, so we are hoping that we might have a cat at last.

La Tuilerie Website

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Camping Championships

La Tuilerie Website

The season is coming to an end and we can reflect on all the new people we have met this year and remember with fondness the renewed friendships with people who have visited us more often. But most importantly now is the time to calculate the current camping champions.

The winners at the end of the 2009 season:

Category 1 - the longest stay ever
Fam G are still in the lead for their 25 night stay in 2007, with Fam P (2007) and Fam D (2009) at 21 and 20 nights respectively.

The two tents of Family H viewed from Taizé Category 2 - the most cumulative tent nights (this category is open only to returning campers)
Fam H are the clear winners at 56 tent nights with Fam S trailing by 12 nights at 44. However, the next nearest rival is way down at 29 nights for Fam F.

Family S. enjoying the sunCategory 3 - the most return visits
Fam S are the winners with 5 visits, with Fam B, Fam Mc and Fam M running a close second at 4 visits each.

Congratulations to all the winners and hopefully see you next year!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury

La Tuilerie Website

He was supposed to be in Taizé this morning. I have had this date in my diary for a couple of months ever since I saw on the Taizé website that he was arriving on Thursday 6th and leaving on Sunday the 9th . The Reverend, who had rented one of our gites, had assisted on Friday at a communion service where the Archbishop had officiated, along with the second in command of the Anglican church the Archbishop of York, so he had been seen. I was banking on the fact that as a very senior Christian “official” he would be invited to officiate at the communion, but as the more than 50 visiting clergy filed in, in their white cassocks and green shawls, he was not among them. There was a Cardinal and an African guy who could have been the Archbishop of York, but no sign of the Most Reverend Rowan Williams. Maybe I had just not recognised him.

As I was watching the monks walk in, I spotted him. Amongst the more than one hundred monks he walked into the church wearing the monks’ white cassock. He walked up through the church and sat simply amongst them. The only difference between him and them was the beautiful silver cross that he wore outside his tunic. I was moved by this humble action, it made the other clergy look garish with their green shawls, towering above the rest of the congregation on their benches.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wth Frère Alois the Prior of Taizé taken from the Taizé website.

The service progressed as normal for a Sunday morning, that means that if you sit at the front of the church you have to turn through 180 degrees for the readings to face the direction of the reader and as in other churches you stand for the Gospel. You then turn back 180 degrees and sit down again. What I didn’t spot until I was back on the ground was that the monks had not turned to face the altar, they sat still facing the back of the church. I quickly returned, (not an easy job when the church is that full) and I saw a single monk standing in the middle of the church at the lectern, it was the Archbishop himself. He then read out what I would call a sermon. This was translated into French in stages by one of the monks. For regular churchgoers there is nothing odd about this, but because the average Taizé congregation will consist of people of probably more than 50 nationalities, the explanation of the scriptures is left to the small groups that meet in the mornings where a monk will do that in the language of the group. So to my knowledge, this is the first time a sermon has been ever given in a service at Taizé, a very special occassion.

After that, the service continued as normal, however, none of the visiting clergy were invited to celebrate the communion, that was done by the monks themselves as is the case in the winter when there are no visitors around. Not even the Cardinal was invited to join in.

When the communion was distributed, the Archbishop stood in line with the other monks simply waiting his turn.

A moving experience and one I am happy to say I witnessed.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Singing in Taizé

La Tuilerie Website

The beauty of Taizé songs is that they are sung in many languages, most of which I and most of the people around me do not understand, but their meditative quality is quite mesmerising. I have spent many hours struggling at home with the German ones, just so that I can sing along on my next visit, in particular “Gott is nur liebe” has been a serious tongue twister for me over the years. I have just about cracked it and so I was very disappointed last week when I discovered that all my work had been in vain, this year the song is sung in Polish and is now called “Bóg jest miłościa”, an even worse tongue twister, so more homework to be done! bog

Sometimes songs are in English, Dutch or French which makes pronunciation for me easier and even Latin is not a problem. It is just the German and Slavonic ones I struggle with.

There are some beautiful singers every week in the Church but there are some not too good singers as well, but it is the enthusiasm that is the most important thing. It can be a bit off putting sometimes though if you are stuck next to someone who is a bit too loud, like last Sunday, I was sitting just behind just such a chap. He sang VERY loudly, he also sang slightly out of tune and he was always a semi quaver behind the rest. It made singing along with the rest of the congregation a bit tricky, but hey he was involved and doing his best. The first half of the Sunday service is the Eucharist and that part follows a special song sheet all in Latin, as the communion is being distributed the “real” Taizé songs start, what did we get? Yes you guessed it “Bóg jest miłościa” Oh well I did my best, but this English chap with the loud voice was definitely not singing the same words as me, also not last year’s version, it didn’t take me long to realise that he was singing English! Maybe he hadn’t spotted the change of language or maybe he knew the song in English or maybe…..who knows. I joined a difference queue for communion from him, to get out of earshot.

Returning to our places and more songs and one of my favourites, “Singt dem Herrn”. singt
My over-loud neighbours gustily sang again in English. He was getting a touch annoying at this point and a large circle of emptiness was being formed around him as people moved, which of course made his voice even clearer for me and less easy to ignore, when he started singing a French song also in English, I left, I was even out before the monks.

I must say that it puts singing songs in many languages into a different perspective and one I hope never to repeat!

If you click on either of the songs you'll get to the MP3 and podcast page of the Taizé webiste, for their homepage click here.
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