World Youth day is nearing the end and yesterday we went to St James church for the final Taize service. This was the Adoration of the Cross, the normal Friday night prayer at the Taize community in France.
The surprise? Sitting a few seats in front of us in a crowded church, standing room only, was the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his family. They were in many ways anonymous in a great crowd of pilgrims and seemingly as intent on the time together as we all were.
For me it was a moment to remember for a number of reasons:
Despite the cynics who see WYD as a distraction from the bigger issues such as Climate Change it is encouraging to see the leader of our country taking time out with his family to do family things. Anyway, sometimes we need the time out from the big issues in our lives to get the perspective we need to find the appropriate ways to move forward. Simply immersing yourself in the problem at hand narrows the focus and the vision, resulting in rushed and inept responses being made.
On that note, it was great to see him there with, as I undestood it, at least one of his boys helping them to experience a type of spirituality not usually experienced in Australia. If this was the case, in a time when this country has a dearth of effective fathering, especially fathering of sons, any image of our leaders making an effort to be there is a helpful one and needs to be encouraged. I hope it was great for his family as well.
I expect he understood the significance of Taize as the home of the European prayer for peace. It has often by noted that the involvement of young people in the Taize experience has added to the work for peace in Europe especially after WWII. As a leader of our country it is imperative that we have a leader of peace, peaceful solutions to local and global issues, a voice that speaks and prays for peace is a voice we need to hear in these turbulent days.
And by the way, the Taize session was excellent.