9th December 2008

In a small corner of Burgundy is a place that teaches hope. Its name is Taize, founded by a man everyone called Brother Roger. Essentially it's a community of peace-loving monks, who live by making items like pottery, jewellery and stained glass. As it's situated just south of the border between what used to be the occupied part of France during WW2, in the 'free zone', Taize was well-placed to shelter refugees such as Jews fleeing from the Nazis.
But history is littered with good men who were murdered by the very people they sought to help. So too was Brother Roger in 05 when he was stabbed to death during evening prayers. But the community lives on with a new leader, still striving for a better world.
On a day when I see that hundreds of Muslim tombstones have been desecrated with swastikas in Arras, I wonder whether man can ever learn to love those who are perceived as 'different' from himself. The old conflict of one tribe v another tribe continues ad infinitum. The 'tribe' names may change, but so the enmity goes on - until one magical day in the future when we are all members of one community: that of earth.
In the meantime, thousands still come to Taize to find inspiration in this still turbulent world. Forty-thousand are expected at its New Year meeting, which this year will be held in Brussels. Those wishing to go on a French-organised coach can contact rencontres@taize.fr to book a place.
And for me? I don't care what label people put on themselves. I look for the goodness within.

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