Category Archives: In Ameugny

Five years ago – our life and our moments at Taizé

Five years ago today, the DGs (dual gimpy and grumpy) were basking in the glow of  the wonderful celebratory wedding nuptials of son John to Julie Brown. It elicited almost a week’s worth of posts on the old gulker.com, starting with the day after and onward: Aug. 8, Aug. 9, Aug. 10, Aug. 11. In October, they took what was the female DG’s first trip to Asia, visiting both Shanghai and Hangzhou, where the male DG took one of his most evocative images.

Almost exactly a year to the day after their Asia adventure began a new – and in every way – different adventure. One day you wake up, go to work, an “incident” occurs that lands you in the emergency room, and you know you are in trouble when they call in a neurologist who tells you as gently as possible, “There’s a mass in your brain.”

A few weeks later, a biopsy performed at UCSF confirmed a grim diagnosis, anaplastic astrocyloma (grade 3 glioma), inoperable (due to its location) but treatable. So they learned the male DG  was going to die and they began their step by slow step-by-step acceptance of that journey. A final chapter began a month ago when he learned that additional tumors had now appeared.

Tonight at dinner they talked about knowing you’re going to die. It’s a cliché that we all know we will die – and the older one gets the more this reality sinks in. Some of us know we’re going to die much sooner than later; that’s the reality the DGs live with today – months not years left in the male DG’s life.

All of this preamble leads to the gist of the post: Five years ago today Brother Roger, even though a frail elderly man, woke up not knowing he was going to die soon. But the dagger of a deranged woman took his life during one of the thrice daily services at the Church of the Reconciliation in Taizé. He had arrived in Taizé on August 20, 1940, where he was to harbor Jews from the Nazis and the French puppet government during World War II – and where his idea of founding an ecumencial Christian community came to fruition.

Taizé has been a special gift that the DGs have shared four times since his diagnosis, three out of the four years in the presence of old friends (David and Ricki) and this year in the company of Bay Area friends (Marty and David, Sara and Peter) and brand new friends (Sue and Cees).

Explains the Taizé newsletter received in the female DG’s inbox today: “Since he did not want there to be too much speech in churches, the Taizé Community marked the double anniversary – 70 years of its founding and five years of the founder’s death – primarily by holding a simple pilgrimage on the evening of Saturday, August 14…Current prior Brother Alois said the prayer that follows – and these were the only words spoken:

“God of love, we thank you for the given life of our brother Roger, who died five years ago and who arrived alone in this small village of Taizé seventy years ago.

“He sought earnestly to live in your trust and to express your infinite kindness for every human being, whether a believer or a nonbeliever—you, the living God, who do not condemn, who exclude no one from your love.

“In this trust, you enabled him to find the source of joy and peace: peace of heart that made him a creator of peace among humans.

“Like John the Baptist, he only wanted to prepare the way of your Christ, to reunite your people and to tell everyone, ‘God is close to you.’

“Turning to you, God of love, and being close to the poorest were inseparable for him. To relieve suffering, to welcome, to welcome young people in particular, to listen so as to understand all of others: that was the path you opened for him in order to follow Christ Jesus and to be attentive to the Holy Spirit.

“Poor and vulnerable as he was himself, as he put it, he chose to love with all his strength.

“He loved your Church that gathers believers in one communion beyond all boundaries— political, social or cultural. It was for him the sign of hope of a reconciled humanity.

“We thank you for being able to remember him with the whole Church. The words of Pope Benedict go straight to our heart when he wrote, ‘May his witness to an ecumenism of holiness inspire us in our march towards unity.’ The Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lutheran and Reformed leaders, and many others, join us to express our gratitude.

“Enable us all to continue with all our heart what Brother Roger began. Like him, we would like to live in friendship with Christ, putting into practice, without waiting, even just a single word of the Gospel.

“In the communion of the whole Church throughout the world, and with those who went before us in faith, beginning with the apostles and Mary, we praise you and we sing:

“‘Jesus Christ, Inner Light, do not let my darkness speak to me. Jesus Christ, Inner Light, make me able to welcome your love.'”

Looking at the photos the DGs knew exactly where the Brothers (in white robes) gathered on Saturday and felt just a little part of the gathering even though far away…

Photos courtesy of Taizé Community

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Trying hard to channel the Maconnais

Dinner at Parkside Grille, Portola ValletSo what was it about living in Aneugny that the female DG found so, well, contenting? They had spent a relatively cool and rainy month of May, so it wasn’t the weather. She’s suspected it was the beauty of the countryside but also the pace of living in rural southern Burgundy where everything seems to be at half time.

Then there were the things that they could easily do in the San Francisco Bay Area but rarely do. Like meeting friends for lunch on Saturday. So they did that yesterday. Which brought them to Sunday and a day where she could almost channel the Ameugny/Taize/Cormatin vibe. Get up and go the market. Then rather than morning service with the brothers, an evensong service at Christ Church Portola Valley with beautifully sung music provided by the choir of Hertford College, Oxford. All capped off by an outdoor dinner with the Bostocks, who’d been with the DGs in Ameugny/Taize. It was about as close as she can get…

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First Blush: Use a lot of imagination and see the Guye river valley

To cheer herself, the female Dawn Jogger likes to think of the Big Dish ridge top as a suitable replacement for the Ameugny/Taize ridge top. Look east and see the Grosne river valley – actually the San Francisco Bay and hills beyond. Look west and see the Guye river valley – actually the 280 freeway and coastal mountains beyond. Today, there was a small hole of light emanating on the western horizon in an otherwise overcast morning that she thought might make a pretty picture. Ok, ok, so the oak landscape looks nothing like southern Burgundy…

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Chronicling the last sunrise in Ameugny

House near Roman church in Ameugny photographed June 2010

The DGs have been rising naturally during their stay in Ameugny, so there was no need to set an alarm in order to get up in time to make their 10:30 am flight from Lyon. But they did allow a few extra minutes for the male DG to take one last shot of the shadow of the graveyard cross on the side of M. Lechat’s house. The male DG is promising to give a full update on gulker.com…

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Reflection on a month in the French countryside

Field just east of Taize, France

The female DJ took her final walk through the Guye valley today – at least for this visit. Between the walk to and from Taize each morning, a different loop that passes by Elevage Daubard (Charolais cattle ranch), and the jaunts near the Grosne and Guye Rivers, she seen a lot of changes in just 30 days time. When the DGs arrived, the grape vines seemed to be shivering  in the cold and had barely budded but all the surrounding fields were ablaze with yellow buttercups. The vines are now dancing in the sunshine and the buttercups, overtaken by tall wheat grass, barely visible. In Ameugny, the roses continue their brilliant bloom; along the country lanes, red poppies have made their appearance. Many new calves have made their appearance; the sheep at the last farm on the right have been shorn but remain very pregnant. A new group of young people, including many Swedes and some Americans have arrived in Taize (the blue tents are just barely visible at the top of the photo). All will continue to evolve over the summer months without her. The male DG talks of a September return – and shares a wonderful photo on his blog

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A visit to kittens leads to another great walk

River Grosne near Chazelle, France

Color the female DG breathless, again packing a lot into one 24 hour period. Start the day shared with friends at Taize. Sandwich in some work. Then head down the hill and east to the neighboring hamlet of Chazelle to visit Fifi the cat’s new kittens. Fifi’s co-owner Cees van Halderen, who along with wife Sue Nixon run a combination  gites/camping ground, La Tuilerie de Chazelle, had the good suggestion of taking the long way back to Ameugny, which gave  the female DG the opportunity to get to know the fields and forests near the River Grosne. This month has gone by way too quickly…

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A good walk – and then a glimpse of the expat life

Voie Verte near Cluny, France

Yep, just your average day. Morning prayer with the brothers of Taize followed by old fashioned American scrambled egg breakfast. Then a two hour (6.2 miles) walk into Cluny along the Voie Verte with Sara and Peter, with the male DG meeting them for lunch at Pain Sur La Table. Stops in Cluny to buy  provisions for the fete tonight, featuring a gathering of expats (Dutch, Brits, American). Has the female DG mentioned she could get used to this life…

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