Once upon a time there was a Brother. He grew up among steep hills of Switzerland. Once day he left his promising career. He left his family, upon their consent. He travelled a little bit and finally in the place where hills, water and an old church make out a fabulous scenery, he set up a place where you can encounter God, where many people pilgrimage.
Does it ring a bell to you, Taize people? Brother Roger? Yes and no. The very same description applies to another Brother. St. Brother Klaus. Not a Taize Brother, but the most famous Swiss saint. It is right today that we celebrate his 600th birth anniversary
At the age of 50, he left his wife and ten children as he believed to be called by God to live a solidary, hermit life. At a first glance it appeared to me highly controversial that the Church canonised him.But let’s leave this controversy to the Holy Spirit.
I really enjoy those moments when the last person leaves the evening prayer in the room called Olive Tree which overlooks the lake. and then I feel that there is really me and God. It has a particular taste and flair. I think of Taize in the forties and Brother Roger who regularly left the village a few times a day in order to loudly pray in the woods. I think of Brother Klaus who prayed at home, long before he left. He often got up in the middle of the night, went to the kitchen and knelt close to the stove to get immersed in God.
Today we took a pilgrimage to fetch the relics of Brother Klaus and to visit him in the depth. in the very bottom of the Alpine valley. The place is called Ranft. It is here that Brother Klaus set up his hermitage. Strangely enough it was just 15 minute walk away from his family house. In his sparely furnished room he had two windows. One overlooked the altar of the chapel, the other one – alpine peaks. To me it is a clear sign that I need to have my two eyes open, one for God and what he whispers to me and the other for daily routine, beauty of life and the needs of others, sometimes whispered unobtrusively between the lines.
In Taize there is the Source – a green area with some water to stay in silence. Here we had a stream Melchaa to refresh body and mind. We could put off our shoes to feel the freezing water and choose the stone for our parish installation. The priest from Thalwil intends to do an intriguing installation behind the church. As Brother Klaus’s pillow was a stone, Marios, the priest, intends to arrange a bench with a stone-pillow and a book about Brother Klaus, so that the community members have a cosy place for reflection and prayer. So we entered the stream and rolled up the trousers to get hold of the stones.
The silence is Ranft has a special taste. The silence undisturbed by an astonishingly small number of pilgrims given such a round anniversary. The silence not abused by our midday prayers. There are two churches and two chapels. We entered each of them and everywhere we ventured a short Taize prayer with a handfull of people gathered inside.
Ranft, the valley cutely set among steep mountains is an invitation to go deep inside ourselves. To the very bottom of our desires, dreams, wounds. This is why in Switzerland there is a church campaign for “more Ranft”
Dear reader. If you have read until this point, congratulations! Please, please, don’t let it be just an entertainment or a nice reading. Please make your own Ranft now. Just put your phone or computer aside and spend 5 minutes in silence.