“It was not ‘me’ arriving in Halle but a ‘we’.”

The time of our small provisional community is over and it was such an amazing experience. Three weeks have been a short time, but within these three weeks so many things have happened – much more than I expected.

Before we started our small community my biggest concern was about what our work will be like and how I would react to it. As it turned out our main work was with children which was very joyful in fact. We really loved this work and we all had the feeling that the kids liked to have us with them. Spoken language was German of course, so it was not always easy for Pieter and Bálint. They both knew at least a little German they learnt back in school. It was very surprising to see that the lack of language was not a barrier between the kids and them but rather a bridge.

Surprisingly it is not the experiences connected to our work that are fascinating me the most. To me living as a spiritual community and to see what is becoming possible within it impressed me most. Of course we started as three people hardly knowing each other, but by the moment we arrived in Halle we were recognized as a group, as a community. It was not ‘me’ arriving in Halle but a ‘we’. And I had the feeling the way people reacted to us was affected a lot by this. We have been welcomed very lovely everywhere and we got a lot of support by very different people. We had the possibility to visit so many aspects of the church. It was not only the places we were working at but also the groups we got invited by. We visited a school, some youth groups, a family community, refugees and some other groups. We were present within the church and I am sure this would not have been possible if we had shown up as single and individual persons.
By joining this project the three of us agreed to not taking care of our very own life for the time we are in Halle. We took a step back from our ‘normal life’s duties’ in order to be present and available. I am amazed to see what became possible accepting this. We had the possibility to encounter so many different people, we were flexible enough to arrange a lot of meetings and react to different situations. Every evening we were cooking by ourselves and had our supper after the prayer. A few times we invited someone visiting our prayers to join our meal. Even though sharing a meal is something very simple it became special for both us and our guest.

To me our daily evening prayer will remain the biggest mystery of this whole project. We had our evening prayer in the protestant church and everybody was invited to pray with us. When Pieter, Bálint and I met the first time we soon realized neither of us can sing well. So the singing of our prayers was horribly out of tune and for sure our singing got lower and lower by each verse. And since we did not manage to strike the right tone when singing along with any accompanying instrument we did a cappella. But nonetheless we were joined by up to eight or nine people every evening, most of them coming on a regular basis. And these people really appreciated our prayers, they liked the atmosphere. All three of us felt comfortable with our prayers, but we did not expect people to be that much thankful for it. We soon introduced an open end to the prayer like it is done in Taizé as well. To do so we were playing some songs from the instrumental CDs after the common prayer and we were amazed to see who long people actually stayed in church – some of them were telling us afterwards that it was their first time to be back in a church after a long time. We had the feeling that we didn’t do anything but for these people it became something very valuable. It was not just our small community’s evening prayer anymore, but it became something we could give to the people around us. Realizing this I became very joyful every time when preparing the prayers and setting up the church room.

Author: Michael Schönung

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