In the summer of 2011 I went to the Taizé faith community in France. This holiday completely turned my 19-year existence upside down, which I can write books about. To begin with, I will take you to the beginning of my life story around this theme.
With a committed Catholic father and a mother who became Catholic at a later age, it was only natural that the Catholic would receive an education.
When my father turned out to be seriously ill and my niece died after a terrible illness at the age of 14, I had many doubts about my faith. How can there be a God when such terrible things happen? How could my parents still trust in their faith even at the sight of my aunt and uncle's grief?
Yet there came a point when I started to believe in more than mere science. August 21, 2009, I was 17. On this day my grandfather passed away in a miraculous way. He was ill, waited in hospital until the whole family was with him. After his heart stopped beating, I talked to him for a while. Although I know it is not scientifically possible, I believe so strongly that he heard me.
December 2010. European meeting with Taizé. This is a religious community that is well known among young people, in the French village of the same name. Taizé came to Rotterdam. This was a draw for 30.000 young people from all over the world. This large number had to sleep somewhere, so some of them also slept in Bodegraven, my hometown. It was actually a coincidence that I took the bus to Rotterdam to receive those young people and take them to Bodegraven.
Here I found out that believing young people do not necessarily have to be boring or conservative, I even let myself be persuaded to go to a prayer. What peace have I found in this, I could not get enough of it. Never before have I experienced a church service as pleasant. How nice it felt to be alone with my own thoughts and to get to know myself in this way.
What shocked me very much is that I became aware of a force that cannot be perceived with the senses, but I still know what it was. God. He was there for me in times of silence, he was there for me in times of happiness, he was there for me in times of sorrow.
I started to look differently at Dutch society, which is rushed and individual. Why run for a bus that comes every 5 minutes? How come I get looked at funny when I buy a sandwich at the Kiosk for a drunk homeless person? Why am I the only one in the train compartment to make way for that elderly woman? For me, faith is not only faith in God, but also moving towards the kingdom of God together. I interpret this in miniature: working on a society based on trust.

Fortunately, I was able to convert passivity in my grief into activity quite quickly. I came into contact with the Leiden Students Ekklesia, where I made a renewal of the baptismal vow at Pentecost. That's how I was able to confirm my faith. I have also been to Taizé twice in the meantime. I am so grateful for this experience and I will absolutely continue to follow the road to the kingdom of God.