When I was a senior in college I spent a week at Taize, a community in the countryside of France. It’s considered an ecumenical monastic order, composed of about 100 brothers of Catholic and Protestant traditions who come from around the world. Some call it one of the world’s most important sites of Christian pilgrimage.
There is really no way to describe Taize without going yourself, although their Wikipedia page and website give a fair glimpse at the place so many young people travel to yearly. The sparse accommodations, thrice daily prayers, focus on silence, and chilly outdoor meals were a challenge for this girl. (Plus, Paris was our next stop and I couldn’t wait!) Looking back, I regret not being present enough to enjoy a time that few people ever get to experience.
This afternoon I snacked on a small square of Ghiradelli dark chocolate and a piece of wheat toast with cold butter. The taste instantly took me back to cold fall mornings at Taize. Just as the sun was rising we’d gather under open tents for breakfast, our hands cold and our bellies empty. In small circles we huddled for warmth and nursed the small meal offered. All we were given to eat was a hunk of bread, one stick of butter, a red bowl of watery hot chocolate, and a square of dark chocolate.
The first day I remember saying out loud: “This is SERIOUSLY it? This is all we get?” There were no other choices; no wheat free, dairy free, sugar free options. Take it or leave it- and this girl took it- albeit ungratefully at first. But as the days went by I realized how wonderful it can be too have no choices. I quickly started to look forward to our sparse meal and the way we melted the chocolate in the hot water and then spread it over the bread to create a sandwich of sorts. Everyone was eating chocolate for breakfast! Talk about liberating!
At times in my life I’ve complained about having to make a choice between two things. This college, or that? Job A or Job B? His family or mine? New car or used? Quit or stay?
Sometimes, though it seems frustrating at first, it’s really nice to not have a choice. A buffet seems like it would be yummier and more satisfying, but trust me when I say: the bread is more than enough.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. And if you’re still having trouble trusting, make a chocolate butter sandwich.