“The first stage of the journey was a day spent in a village in the North East of Serbia, near the frontier with Romania. The people there speak Slovak and most of them are Lutherans. The pastor, who knows Taizé well and who took part in the meeting in Sarajevo, invited the young people and the less young to take part in the prayers and sharing. Young adults from the surrounding region came to join in. The Bible readings were in Serbian, Slovak, Hungarian and Romanian and the songs were accompanied by seven violins, two guitars and two double basses.
Another stage was the Orthodox faculty of theology in Belgrade. It has a beautiful chapel where many students take part in the daily prayers. Following Vespers, I was invited to share what we are living in Taizé. A beautiful poster in the hall announced the theme: “Taizé, a place where Christians pray and meet one another”. The evening turned into a real dialogue, thanks to the warm introduction by one of the professors and the questions put by the students.
There was a similar moment at the Orthodox seminary at Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro. Vespers, followed by the blessing of five loaves, wine and oil, recalled the meeting at Sarajevo where, on the Saturday evening, we were all invited to the old Orthodox church in the city centre for prayer and to receive the blessed bread. In Cetinje, after Vespers and the meal, we came together in a hall and it was Metropolitan Amphilochus of Montenegro in person who began by sharing his experience of visiting Taizé in the 1980s. Then I had to present “Taizé, a monastery near Lyon, a place of Christian meetings”.
On the way to Sarajevo, I stopped at Mostar, the principle city of Hercegovina which is a region of great fervour. The chairs in the crypt of the Catholic cathedral were not enough for all the young people who came to the evening prayer but, with the experience of their stays in Taizé, some of them quite naturally sat down on the floor. One group of young adults came by special bus from a parish in the district, driven by a Franciscan.
It was a joy to come back to Sarajevo. The meeting last year has left traces that perhaps are not very visible but are nevertheless profound in the hearts of all those who took part in one way or another in the preparation and the welcome. It seems that nothing is simple in this city, apart from drinking coffee together. But we want to live a pilgrimage of trust, and trust can very well begin with a cup of coffee, served by a Christian, a Moslem, or whoever they may be.”