Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Bells, the Bells!

I’ve mentioned before that the bells of Taizé are the first thing I hear when I wake up in the morning, OK I know I should be up before 08.15, but that’s life in Burgundy for you. La Tuilerie Seen from Taizé In fact I was told that the reason that people sleep so well here is the extra oxygen in the air from being next to the forest. As you can see from the photo our house is nestled amongst the trees and when people come to stay here it is true that they sleep very well and deeply. I had always thought that it was the long journey they had just made, or the fact that at last they can sleep somewhere where there is no light pollution or somewhere where it is truly quiet, but Mme R reliably informed me that it is the potency of the air that does it.

Now Mme R is an interesting person, she has lived here all her life, she has an ingrained disrespect for all in authority be that local government, the police, the Catholic church or anyone else who puts their head above the parapet and she has an opinion on everything and she “knows” a lot. We love to listen to her rantings about local dignitaries, in particular the one about the Mayor (not ours I hasten to add) who was caught stealing milk from a neighbour’s farm to make cheese. His cheese farm is out of bounds to us now, we are not allowed to buy from there in case we incur Mme R’s wrath. She has a host of such stories which all go together to prove her general conspiracy theory of authority figures.

We were at Mme R’s house one day a couple of years ago when the Taizé bells started to ring and that prompted a story about how there had been a pond under the bells originally, to act as a “sound mirror” to reflect the sound far and wide. The local villagers had complained about the noise and these complaints had prompted the monks to change this situation. Another conspiracy theory, but at least the monks did the right thing in the end. We take these stories with the pinch of salt that they deserve, but we enjoy them none the less. Oh yes and don’t get her started on windmills, we have had too many hours of stories of money grabbing officials just after lining their pockets with gold at the expense of us residents!

Original Taizé Bell TowerThe other day I found a picture which shocked me to the core, I dragged Cees over to look at the picture and we finally agreed that some of what Mme R had told us was in fact true. As you can see in the photo, when the bells in Taizé were originally installed, they were indeed installed over water. What’s more, they were in a completely different tower construction, much more open and no more than 1 m from the ground with a small pond underneath. Also this old tower was in the middle of a large open space in-between the living accommodation of the monks and the new church. Those bells must have been deafening for many villages around. No wonder there were complaints!

Having said that the original bell tower is aesthetically pleasing to look at unlike the truly ugly gate-like construction the bells now hang in. However with the bells now at a height of at least 10 m above the ground, with them being relatively boxed-in in their new tower and of course with there being many new buildings around the bell tower, the sound of the bells is very pleasant indeed and not a bad sound to hear when you first wake up.

So I think an apology in order here: Sorry Mme R we will believe you next time!

For more photos of the house and where we are Click here.

2 comments:

  1. I actually think the new tower is kind of nice looking. It's simple and goes with the feel of the area around it- just simple and functional. I'm also really glad the volume is less intense now. If they were loud enough to disturb the nearby villages I can't imagine how jarring they must have been to people visiting and living at Taize during those initial years!

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  2. Hi Emily, I actually didn't dare to say it in the main piece but I'll say it here, the new bell tower looks just like the gateway into a concentration camp to me, it gives me the creeps, which is such a pity when the original was so simple and in my opinion beautiful. I also think the pond looks really beautiful, pity it shook the neighbours out of bed!

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