Sunday, 16 August 2015

In search of Radical Nuns.

Map of Taizé
Sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it? But it’s true, last week I went searching for radical nuns.

These last few weeks, Taizé has been very busy leading up to the major remembrance of Frère Roger’s death, 10 years ago. There has been a week of “reflection on the relevance of a religious or monastic vocation” and this last week has been a “gathering for a new solidarity”. I happen to know one of the speakers, Sister Simone, who is based in Washington DC. I wanted to hear her story; I wanted to hear how she and her organisation had been branded as “radicals” and almost called traitors of the Catholic church.

I went up to Taizé on Sunday to find out more about the week’s programme ands when and where she would be talking. It was heaving with people and the queue for the information centre was out the door and around the block. I left pretty quickly and checked out their website. It appeared that she was talking on Tuesday and Thursday and her talk was called “A nun on a bus”. Intriguing, but no more details than that.

On Monday I went back to see if more information was available and then I saw that “today’s workshops” were posted on the walls at strategic points, so all I had to do was to go back Tuesday morning. Her talk could be at 10.00 or 15.00 so I arrived well in time on Tuesday morning and found the lists for “today’s workshops” posted at strategic points telling me what the talks had been yesterday, not super useful but it was at least a start.

A Taizé kampong
Then I spotted a couple of people who seemed to have got their hands on a copy of “today’s workshop” for today! I asked the two Dutch ladies concerned if I could see their paper and they kindly explained that it was in English, if that wasn’t a problem for me, I could have it. I reassured them that I could read English and they gave it to me. And I could at last see that Sister Simone was to talk in tent/room T at 15.00.

I was off to a good start, all I had to do was to find tent/room T and I had plenty of time to do it. It wouldn’t be difficult because I was standing next to room S at the time, T couldn’t be far away. Well life isn’t that simple is it? Next to room S were rooms L, M and N. Moving towards the bell tower and I came across tents P and R. At that point I decided a visit to the information centre was in order, otherwise I would miss the talk altogether, after all it had taken me an hour to get this far and I only had 5 hours left.

The map on the wall of the information centre kindly told me where the church and car park were, but no T, not even an S for that matter. So off to Morada (the other information point) to ask. It was heaving with people. Finally I found a map on the wall there that showed where T was. Not too far from F (logical) at the far end of the site where the adult and family area is.

So off I went to find T. I took a wrong turn and ended up in one of Taizé’s kampong areas which in itself was worth the visit, but no T not even an F.

Empty and letterless
Back to the road and the next turn took me to F, just where the map had said it would be, so off in search of T. Finally I found a large letterless tent locked in a field with no access. OK maybe I had to access it through the adult campsite. Back up the road into the campsite and I could see the letterless tent, but still no access. Back down the road and then I read the notice on the locked gate, only open between 11 and 12 and 14 and 19. I went home just hoping that I had indeed found the right venue.

Back to Taizé at 2 o’clock and I walked down to the letterless tent. It looked sadly abandoned. There was however a nice young lady sitting under a tree reading a book, I asked her if this was tent T and she confirmed it was, strange that there were no other people or chairs, it didn’t look like any conference venue I’d ever seen before.

These must be them, it says so on their backs
Then I saw them approaching - the radical nuns on a bus. I just hoped that some other people would find the venue and turn up to listen to what they had to say.

That’s the cliff-hanger folks – you’ll have to wait for another blog to find out what happened next.

For information on holiday accommodation near a letterless tent that is indeed T click here.

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