THIS month’s picture choice is a stained-glass window in rural France which captures the essence of the Christmas spirit.
The tiny window is one of a series which can be found in the Church of Reconciliation at the Taizé Community, an extraordinary monastic fraternity which has become a place of pilgrimage for young people from all over the world.
While thousands of young people descend on Taizé at Easter and during the summer holidays, Christmas is traditionally much quieter – so much so that on our last visit in December 2019, we were virtually alone with the monks on the coldest of winter nights.
Flash forward three years and a gruelling pandemic and we’re finally able to return, once again on a frosty winter’s day…but this time classes and discussion groups have resumed and a few dozen young people are able to join the monks for the afternoon service.
It’s a very special place at any time of year, but at Christmas it’s a particular pleasure to rediscover the peace of this extraordinary community where, as Brother Roger put it “kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the centre of everything”.
It’s also a delight to revisit a luxurious hotel only a few miles away which provides a perfect touring base for this beautiful part of Burgundy.
Firmly ensconced by the roaring fire at the Chateau D’Igé, we can banish memories of those icy roads in northern France and relax over an excellent three-course meal.
The food is excellent, the service impeccable and our room extremely comfortable: a perfect overnight break for anyone tackling the gruelling 1,000-mile journey from the UK to the south of France.