IN MAY 2011, I found myself in France, sitting with brothers of the Taizé ecumenical monastic community, talking about the history of my people, the Lakota.
After evening prayer, the prior, Brother Alois, invited a few of us to join him for supper. This special gathering was held in the bedroom of Brother Roger, founder and first prior of the Taizé community. His room has been kept the way he left it when he died in 2005. The room held a small shelf filled with books, a few furnishings, and a table by the large window. The walls were painted a mango orange color that seemed to enhance the already spirit-filled space. The light in the room became warmer and softer as the sun set.
While eating we talked about many things related to the Lakota, in particular, and First Nations peoples in general. The brothers’ questions were heartfelt, and they listened intently to my every word. At some point during the conversation, I came to a new understanding. This time of breaking bread and conversation was a sacred time. It was Eucharist.
I was born and raised in South Dakota where my people, the Oglala Lakota, reside on the remnants of our original homeland that make up the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. One of my earliest memories is hearing the drum and singing late into the night and feeling the earth reverberate from the deep bass of the drum as both sound and feeling lulled my siblings and me to sleep.
Like most people, I knew very little about what the Taizé community actually does, other than their music. I owned a collection of chants on CD. I’d sung a couple of chants in English during worship services over the years. It wasn’t until Brother John from Taizé came to Pine Ridge in 2010, and I was asked to be his host, that their work for reconciliation became clearer to me.