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Mennonite Brethren HeraldVolume 46, No. 03March 2007
The unfinished story of Josh Casorso
An invitation to trust
From model to minister
Whistler MBs inspired by Catholic cross
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An invitation to trust

The healing music of Taizé

Cathy Hardy

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From the time I was little, I have loved music. My mother played CBC Radio 2 during the day and sometimes I would lie on the carpet with my face buried to the ground, listening intensely.

Because my father was a minister, we lived on church property and I would sing away in the sanctuary on Saturday mornings instead of dusting the pews, which was my job. I loved the way the sun sparkled through the yellow stained glass windows and the way the silence formed around the notes that hung in the air when no one else was around.

I also learned to love the four-part harmonies of the singing in my church community and hearing how those invisible musical lines wove in and out with each other. As I became a teen and then an adult, music continued to hold a very significant part in my life. I played piano, taught piano, and sang in many different situations.

It was during a period eight years ago, however, that an aspect of music deepened for me in a way that changed my life completely. I underwent a severe personal crisis in which it seemed that everything I’d known was falling apart. It seemed I might lose everything I valued. Much of what I was hanging on to did fall apart and I hit a place of desperation.

I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, during this time. A dear friend there handed me a book of songs from the ecumenical faith community of Taizé, France, founded by Brother Roger, and encouraged me, not only to learn the songs but to lead the Taizé services in our local Anglican parish.

Simple lines

I had never heard of Taizé before, so I started to sit with the prayer chants that have come out of this community. I discovered simple lines, many taken directly from Scripture, with simple truths, and life-changing impact.

During one horrible day I knelt by my bed, crying it’s too dark, it’s too dark. But then the words of the Taizé chant, “The darkness is never darkness in your sight, the deepest darkness shines as the daylight,” came to my heart. I was overwhelmed. My darkness is not dark to you, my God? That moment was an epiphany.

The understanding and perspective I had of my situation was incredibly limited, but I was invited – as Brother Roger said over and over in his writings – to enter a journey of trust rather than fear. “Nada te turbe, nada te’espantes. . . . nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten, those who seek God shall never go wanting, God alone fills us. . . .”

I was so afraid and so troubled. Yet there was the invitation, over and over through the sung prayers of Taizé, which offered a way beyond my fears, a way of trust, a way of deep inner rest.

As new years rolled by, I would awaken in the night with these chants pouring through my body. Gradually the impact of their truths brought healing and I was guided into a deeper awareness of God’s love and presence in my life. As I was able, slowly, to let go of fear, rich and beautiful fruit emerged from the ashes in my heart.

Now, living back in the Fraser Valley of B.C., and back in my childhood denomination of the Mennonite Brethren, I, together with an ecumenical team, share these chants/prayers with as many people as I can. I want them to taste of the deep wells this music offers as well.

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Last modified: Mar 21, 2007

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