In late May, I had the amazing opportunity to take a pilgrimage with Lutheran Campus Ministry to the monastic village of Taizé in France. (See Pastor Kate’s blog here!). While this community is known around the world for numerous things, such as their beautiful prayer services and the Brothers themselves, one thing that I particularly grew to love while at Taizé was their limited use of technology and the internet, and how that helped me take a break from the world and find peace after coming from such a hectic semester.
I’m actually surprised how relaxing and freeing it was to be completely disconnected from the outside world because I am such an internet junkie; just about anyone can tell you how much I love social media or how I reference random Youtube videos all the time.
Even when I’m travelling and I have the rare opportunity to set down my phone and be thousands of miles away from my stressful, sometimes chaotic life, I don’t let myself get away from it all and just be.
This lead me to be a little worried about the low tech aspect of Taizé that I had heard so much about because I am so dependent on it. Yet, it also made me excited to leave my stressors behind and just have a week focused on faith (which truth be told was something I really needed).
While at Taizé, I didn’t use my phone for an entire week. There wasn’t cell service, so I wasn’t texting or calling somebody every few minutes. There wasn’t WiFi surrounding the village, so no easy access to Facebook or email. (In fact, if you wanted to use the internet, you had to be quite methodical about it and buy a Wi-Fi card. Then, you had to go to a specific area of Taizé which was the only deemed Wi-Fi zone).
The first night was admittedly difficult because I’m so used to scrolling through my phone at night. But after that, I was thrilled to be rid of my phone and internet; I didn’t even once think about going to buy a Wi-Fi card.
At Taizé, I met so many amazing people that I have now become friends with from all over the world and the best part about interacting with them was that none of us were distracted by our phones. When I would talk with someone, there wasn’t a screen in front of our faces the entire time; we would just talk, pure human interaction. This unhindered communication allowed us to really open up and get to know one another in an extremely fast and deep way, which is nearly impossible to replicate back in the States with technology so readily at our fingertips.
Yes, technology is fantastic and technology is actually what is helping me keep these great Taizé friendships thriving. But we need to remember on a daily basis not to let it own us; our phone is just a hunk of plastic and we have the power to turn it off for an hour, or even a day, to get some alone time.
It is also worth remembering that there are few things greater than having a face to face, in-person conversation with somebody and we should try our best to not let our phones get in the way of building those relationships. I truly believe we see God through interacting with others, and when we use our technology to put up a wall between us and the other or to distract ourselves from the world, we aren’t being fully present on this earth and we aren’t being fully present with God.
As stated before, I am a self-proclaimed internet lover and I’m not looking to give it up anytime soon. But after coming home from Taizé, I am continuing to make efforts to curb my usage of it, like by turning off my phone while I pray, leaving it in my purse when hanging out with a friend or just listening to the sounds of the city when walking home from work, instead of blasting music. It’s hard to pull yourself away sometimes, but when I do, I feel so refreshed and not as overwhelmed by the busyness of life.
It’s amazing the beautiful, normal, everyday things you can miss while being sucked in by technology; I want to intentionally choose to miss out on less of these things.
I’m someone who, though I love words (oh do I love words) routinely feels like words can’t get at the immensity of the situation. I often feel like this when talking about God, strange as that may be for a preacher to say.
I definitely felt like this after I heard the news about Charleston.
I was particularly turned off by the performative posting happening on my Facebook feed, and was internally struggling with what it meant to stay silent in our social media infused world versus contributing to the frenetic buzz that followed Charleston (and seems to have been quickly replaced by posts about Father’s Day).
I was both comforted and challenged by my colleague in Houston, Brad Fuerst’s post:
- You get caught up into a visceral divine compassion when the pain of others has a purchase on your life. IMHO maybe set aside the opportunistic punditry. For now, set aside the quibbling over semantics. Set aside platforms and broken agendas and finger pointing and conjecture…for as long as it takes to be tuned into God’s sweet and painful song of compassion. This, I think, might be what the pained and grieving and accused need most from you now: to listen…with compassion…with your heart.
I, too, decided to stay silent.
Instead I’ve been listening, to the still small voice in me that I trust is Spirit, and to some very thoughtful pieces that have been posted. I’ve been talking with those I love and respect, but mostly just praying. Because I feel sad. So sad. And I feel paralyzed. And hopeless. And angry.
Racism is indeed a gaping wound in this country that refuses to heal, and that we pretend doesn’t exist. It is a structural sin, and we who are complicit need to renounce that sin. It’s present in our church in so many ways. This young man’s family is a part of an ELCA church. It’s present in white lives in so many ways.
We have work to do, brothers and sisters. I have work to do.
I differ with John Stewart on one point, and that is his hopelessness. I watch the way Mother Emmanuel church is responding – the way the black church is responding – and I find hope in their witness. Forgiveness and Justice Seeking happening hand in hand. I’ll take my cues from them, and encourage you to do the same.
When one of us suffers, we all suffer. And when one of us experiences healing, so do we all. Let that admonition from Paul be our sustenance and guide in these days.
When the frentic posting has stopped, that’s when our long, slow work towards healing begins. Listen. Pray. Simmer. Get angry. Stay focused. Talk to people you know and respect, especially people of color. Keep your eyes open for ways to act, and then do it.
We are the only hands and feet and beating heart that Christ has on this earth. Let’s use ours to the glory of God, for the reconciliation of God’s people, and the healing of God’s good earth.
May it be so.
I recently traveled to the ecumenical monastic community in Taize, France (called “Taize”) with LCM’s small student vision team. This community is fascinating for a number of reasons; it’s most known for it’s contemplative worship and music, and it’s also a point of pilgrimage for hundreds if not thousands of young adults across the world EACH week. Most interesting and inspiring to me, however, is its inception as a place of reconciliation –a community born in a call to respond to the Jewish refugee crisis in 1940 – and the way that community lives out it’s call to reconciliation now.
One of the ways the brothers of Taize support this ministry is by selling pottery. I purchased this beautiful blue chalice and paten (cup and plate) to be used for communion, and shared by LCM and the community of Grace University Lutheran Church (see above). All sorts of beautiful metaphors were stirring in my mind. And then, despite carrying it on, and lugging it on trains, buses and planes, on the way home it chipped. Which was deeply disappointing to me. After some thought, however, I decided to save the plate, and use it anyway.
What a more fitting tribute to our shared humanity, our brokenness as individuals, and the way we are gathered together as Christ’s body.
Our community at LCM has long prided itself as being a place of theological and political diversity, and this year we struggled with how to live that out. There was some discord, and some division, We are, as humans and human community, almost always in need of reconciliation. We own that.
And we also proclaim that it’s into those chipped vessels, those broken places, and those cracks that God’s light shines, with power and purpose.
The team of students that traveled to Taize was called by their peers to explore a Christian community different than our own. They were also charged with bringing back and integrating those learnings into our community. After we left Taize, we spent a good chunk of our (one!) day in Paris reflecting on our year as a community, and what we might bring back so that LCM can continue growing into a thriving, generative community that bears witness to God’s love on campus.
We talked for a long time about theological diversity, what it means to claim a particular theology and still make room for difference, how we’re all (as in ALL of us) still figuring out how to do that well, and how we can to that better in the coming year. Going into our broken places is hard, and without this trip, I doubt we would have had time and space for this conversation.
We don’t yet have the answers, but again, Taize may have something to teach us. When asked about their mission of reconciliation and how they live that out, Brother Emille said that they “trust, and pray.” While that honestly seemed to be a bit naïve to me at first, when faced with our own situation it seems like the best way to proceed; trusting in God and our community that we’ll work together to bind up the broken pieces, and rooting ourselves in prayer as our starting point. I pray that it’s as simple, and as complicated, and as deep as that.
In Anthem, Leonard Cohen croons,
“Ring the bell
that still can ring.
Your perfect offering.
There is a crack
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
This chip, this crack, in our paten/plate will continue to remind me of our time at Taize, and our striving to experience reconciliation. In the meantime, we also trust and pray that God shows up in our cracks, shining so much light and beauty and hope into our lives, into your lives, and into this world.
May it be so.
It has been a wonderful experience being involved in Lutheran Campus Ministry since I started as a freshman. For those of you who don’t know, I have had the pleasure of being a part of this group for 8 and a half semesters (4 ½ years). In my time here, I have really been able to build a lot of relationships that have been really positive in my life. I met some awesome Muslim students that I was able to learn from and serve with in New York. I’ve met some great friends that deeply care about me and check up on me. I’ve met some really cool guys that study scripture together at Men’s group. It was also through LCM that I met my Fiancée, Meghan Lane.
In the passage in Luke, Chapter 24, the disciples were “talking with each other and discussing everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.” This passage is really profound for me, because I often wonder how the disciples could not recognize Jesus, the man that they had spent nearly three to three and a half years with together. That is just about the same amount of time the average student in LCM spends with another student in the same graduating class, except that Jesus and his friends were with each other almost 24/7 during that stretch of time. I usually only see Jeremy on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays while classes are in session, but I still can’t even imagine walking down scholars walk and not being able to recognize him if he came up to me.
To me, I think that Jesus was disguising himself as someone different, kind of like the show Joan of Arcadia that used to air on CBS. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the premise was that God appeared to a teenage girl named Joan in the form of a different person every time she encountered God. God appeared to Joan as anyone ranging from a plumber to a librarian, an elder or a small child. I think the biggest thing that I took away from this show and this scripture is that God is present in each and every one of us and can show up in the places we may least expect.
In my journey through college, I have met some really incredible people, with really incredible stories to share. People come from a lot of different situations in life, but despite our differences, we can learn from each other and build relationships that bring us together. Lutheran Campus Ministry has been a great place for me to grow within this large campus, because I have learned what it means to see God in your neighbor. I have met a lot of great people along the way, and I hope to continue to grow in my relationships with those I’ve met, and those I have yet to meet later on in my life. – Joe
Vision Team Announced!
- explore a Christian community in a context very different than our own, and then
- integrate that learning into our community as it shifts and grows and changes year by year.
LCM is doing a stay-cation of sorts for spring break 2015. We are going to spend some time playing learning and serving right here in the Twin Cities!
Are you looking for a way to make a difference this Spring Break? Do you feel called to be the change you wish to see in the world, right here where you live?
Then this Alternative Spring Break is for you! We’ll 1/3 of our time serving in the Phillips area (working with Community Emergency Service), 1/3 of our time reflecting on faith, justice, and sharing our stories with each other, and 1/3 of our time playing in the metro area.
Our hope is that each participant is outside of his/her comfort zone, and well within his/her comfort zone at some point within these five days; and that all people experience the growth that comes from taking risks in community!
Check out this cool poster for more details: Spring Break 2015
To sign up RSVP on our facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/609735189155438/
If you have any questions please contact me, Colleen Maki, Intern for Service and Social Justice via email at email@example.com.
God’s peace to you on this day!
Hello guys my brain is very melty and my fingers are very buff. I am typing at incredible rates. Today Hallie, Caitlin, Wes and I went to Kate’s cottage and hung out with her and her husband Jim and their baby Benjamin and LCM’s interns Colleen and Tim. We all sat around in her living room and enjoyed some quality conversation and home-cooked food, cake, and hot apple cider. It was much needed for me, because I have been alternating between working really hard on school stuff and then cramming in fun social outings, but never making time to just sit and talk. It is not my personality as much to be in a relaxed environment. I tend to be more of a GO-er and a DO-er. When I take the time to sit down and check in with some of my fellow Christians, it always proves to be a good time. Then I realize how important it is to do that from time to time, because as busy as I feel like my life is, if I don’t keep up with others’ happenings they will speed right by me! Sometimes staying in touch can be a difficult thing, but some people are worth it. Saying goodbye to my LCMers is gonna be the toughest part of graduating. It’s the one part of finishing college that I am not excited about. I am currently doing a lot of writing. I geared my classes toward my writing abilities because that is my strong suit, and now I’m feeling the heat as I am cranking out the pages. I still like it though. It will be cool to write about whatever I want instead of what I am assigned, and research things that pop into my head instead of things that somebody smarter than me suggests. Upon the culmination of my education, I can see how much my eyes have been opened to a lot of problems in the world and it makes me want to spread the word to people who didn’t have the resources to come to college and learn about issues beyond what they tell you in high school. That’s why in January, my dear boyfriend and I will be au pairing in Florence, Italy, teaching Italian kids English and absorbing some of their culture ourselves. It’ll be a nice exchange, and I will escape the brutal winter! The problem is, my host-mother dumped me so now I have to find another gig. I am confident that I will, but it is pretty stressful. I don’t want to put myself through long distance. In my last relationship, it took a huge toll on me. Now that school and work won’t be tying my to this place, I am happy to be able to extend my freedom and go wherever I please. I can’t wait to visit the beautiful cathedrals in Italy, and have more peaceful time to listen for God’s voice and reflect, and communicate more with family and friends. LCM has helped me settle into my faith enough that I will feel secure bringing it with me all over the world. When I have questions or challenges from learning others’ perspectives, I know I can work through them and God won’t think anything less of me. Grace Lutheran will always hold a special place in my heart. I extend thanks and compassion to everyone I have connected with through the community. I hope that you guys will continue to reach out to me if you ever need to talk, I’m all ears. God bless
There are so many things making my stress level way too high right now! I am going to be done with school for the rest of my life in one month’s time. I really have no clue what will happen after that. I need to finish my senior project and that still is pretty vague in my mind as well. I also get really anxious thinking about what my life will be like when school is over. I am really excited to be done. I am hoping I will get more free time to practice my music, design and make clothing, prepare wholesome food for myself instead of turning to fast options. But wow, I feel so old. I am a little afraid that I will sink into a hermit lifestyle. It’s ok, I have a dog. I don’t have much more to say at this point except how I am very grateful, and also pretty heavily reliant, on the inner peace that I receive from worshiping at Grace on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday evenings with LCM. God’s peace is a saving Grace.