The Gospel Without Words - Taizé 2019


A series of intense, athletic activities allows the participants to have an experience totally different from workshops using language. The physicality gives everyone a common experience, strenuous yet fun, that unites them in ways that verbal introductions, conversations and lectures often cannot.  The group exercises facilitate the participants’ abilities to work together. This workshop in Taizé this summer focused on the parable of The Prodigal Son, the story of a foolish young man who demands his inheritance from his father. His father reluctantly agrees and the son goes off and quickly squanders everything. His brother, meanwhile, remains home and works hard to help his father. False friends and relationships drain the naïve son of his money, his energy and his self-esteem. Destitute and alone, he takes a job caring for pigs - a profound indignity. He wishes he could take the animal feed for his own nourishment. Eventually, he makes his way back home. His father sees him in the distance and orders his servants to prepare a fatted calf for a feast. He welcomes his errant son with openhearted love and forgiveness. But his loyal son becomes angry and jealous, arguing that while he has faithfully assisted his father, his father has never hosted a feast for him and his friends. The wise father demonstrates his deep understanding of both of his sons and is able to reconcile them with each other and with him.

The large group is broken down randomly into smaller groups and then each person is randomly assigned a role – father, two sons, servants, false friends, and – humorously – even the pigs and the calf. Exploring without words the basic motivations of the characters, and their relationships with each other and with their environments, leads the group to new and arresting insights and to visual images that starkly and compassionately portray the profoundly human realities of each character and how they interact with each other and with their environment. At the end each group wordlessly presents its version of the story.

Suitable for parishes, retreats and special events; youth, young adult and adult groups.