Friday, January 25

My Taizé Meeting in Geneva!

I participated from 28th December 2007 to 1st January 2008 in the “Pilgrimage of Trust through Earth” in Geneva, Switzerland.

The idea to travel to Switzerland happened naturally – I first time I heard about Taizé was around a month or so ago – in a conversation with my volunteer colleagues from the Community of Life and Peace – an association that helps homeless people – after that one month passed before I resolved to look for more information about Taizé and I discovered about the meeting in Geneva so my enrolment ran smoothly. I sent an e-mail to the organizers and the day after I only needed to sort out the bureaucracy with the Swiss embassy in Lisbon. All it took was a phone call for everything to get sorted out, because I didn’t need a visa to enter Switzerland.

We left (me and 62 others) from the parish of Lumiar by coach on the cold morning of 26th December on our way to Geneva via Paris (France), where we stayed such 14 hours to see the city – Paris is towers, museums, the river and cold too.

The trip didn’t go as well as planned, because there were a few surprises – one that happened was when one the back wheels of the coach came off when we were on a motorway in Spain. So we needed to make an extra stop of 4 hours, but it could have been worse!

We arrived in Geneva on the morning of 28th December like most of the other 40.000 youngsters and adults from all over Europe and the world. I was the face of Cape Verde :-)

We were separated into small groups that stayed either in the centre of Geneva or in different parishes in nearby cities in Switzerland and France.

I stayed in the parish of Notre Dame in the centre of Geneva near the train station in a house with two French woman (Teresa and Audrine) and two Polish girls (Eliza and Renata) and a Polish boy (Tomasz). There were 6 of us in Marie and her daughter´s Anna´s house.

The hospitality was the best and I felt like a king; we could arrive home before midnight. It was amazing because I stayed until later with other participants getting to know each other and visiting the city by night.

I stayed separately from the other members of the group that – the one back wheels of the coach came off - because I had volunteered to help … I help with distribution evening meals. This meant I could stay near to the site of the meting in Palexpo. We had a yellow cart and we had to have dinner between 4:30 and 5:00 pm because the distribution of the evening meal started at 5.30 pm and finished around 6.45 pm because at 7 pm the communal prayer session started.

The voluntary services allowed me to meet people from different countries and start talking with them. In this way I learnt how to say, thanks you, in different languages: Romanian (multumesc), Swedish, German (danke), Spanish, Italian (grazie), Polish (dziekuje), Hungarian (köszönöm), Burundi, Slovenian (hvala), Ukrainian, Finnish, Russian and Franch (merci).

Participation in the workshop in my host parish allowed me to change the views of the Polish and German people who belonged in my workshop group and to understand that reconciliation between the “disciples of Christ” has to be done.

The sound of prayer was wonderful and I shall go out and look for the cds.

What the propose of the meeting for me?

There are a number of reasons that motivate people to get involved in that kind of meeting. Some of these reasons I could classify as superficial as for example: to get to know a new city, have a holiday, meet new people (flirt), etc.

As it was an ecumenical meeting I though that I would meet people from different religions and not just Christians, but it was essentially a Christian meeting.

So, I was able to reconcile myself with Catholicism, because I have two sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church: Baptism and confirmation. My mother, who is catholic, brought me up. I went to Sunday school and I belonged to a Catholic youth group called John Paul II in honour of the visit of John Paul II to Cape Verde in 1990. This group has been evolving and currently has a new status like a NGO. I even have some friends who are priests now.

A meeting with a soul from the past

The most important experience for me happened on the last day of the meeting.

I went into the church, by a side door and I ran up quickly with a big smile and an open heart to a being that looked like a light. When I went to give her a hug I saw that I had not meet that person before. However, I sat down beside her and I jointed in with the morning prayers.

At the end of the mass, I said some words to apologize for what I had done. As she was Hungarian and she only spoke German and, of course, Hungarian she didn’t understand. However, she had a friend who spoke English and that girl became our interpreter. I explained to her what had happened and she asked me what my explanation was.

I answered that I had had a strong feeling that I had already met her before, not in that meeting, but more probably in a last life.

After this short conversation between the Hungarian girl and me we hugged each other and we burst into tears. I couldn’t take it anymore and I went outside to walk around. By the time I came back she was still inside. She walked into my direction to say goodbye and I only gave her my hand.

Later, I realized that I hadn’t got her picture or her details, not even the name of that beautiful soul. It was one of those fleeting moment there in that meeting that would never happen again.

Be Happy!!

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