Got a letter from the superintendent asking for a police clearance certificate (Führungszeugnis). So, I got out of the den – and surprise, surprise – the earth is turning, all the world´s on the move and life is going on outside. It could have been any day of the week really.
On the way to the civic center (Rathaus), I dropped off my library books and came across Jochen P. (hunting buddy), who was booking a holiday at the tourist bureau (DER Deutsches Reisebüro) on the market square and on his way to get a haircut. After all, he is going on a hunt today, so he had to look his smartest. Not difficult for him. He´s still makes a fine gentleman at 70+.
Luther was there too, but he was as pensive as always. Not very talkative. Just pointing to Scriptures on his high pedestal. I wonder, if he would have cared to be more conversational with an African like me back in his days or whether he would have been just as aloof as nowadays – just busy with theology and really important things. I wonder, if I would have managed to get his attention anyway and gotten into his circle of friends. Perhaps if Bugenhagen or Justus Jonas would have introduced me most kindly. I sure would have like that – listening to their table talk, trying a bite of Katie´s food or just soaking up the atmosphere of rekindled faith, hope and love in those Reformation days. Now – it´s him and Melanchthon keeping their distance in the public square – up high, far apart and a long distance away from most of us. Looking down on us passersby from on high. Done and dusted. Not much of a conversation going on there. More like a soliloquy. Just like in my little bookstore.
Getting to the library, I ran into Michael B, who works up on the 4th story and whose offices are being moved due to pending renovations to the “Alte Rathaus”. So, she´s desperately trying to get rid of excess stuff – posters, books etc. I got posters last time. Next time, it´s books. Just let her boss sort through those piles first. For now, she was on her way and I on mine, but first we exchanged smiles, friendly words and encouragements. It´s nice to have friendly people around.
Then the books were handed in. No replacements this time. I´ve got enough on my hands as it is, without the burden of unfinished books constantly pleading for attention and accusing me of neglect, discrimination and other terrible offenses. Such books can get a very legalistic demenour after a while and if You get to know them a bit. Even without words, they keep pointing fingers – and it strikes me every time: Guilty as charged!
Getting to the civic center I got the Nr 1 table and faster than I could have imagined Marie B. had my request lodged and I was off with proof in hand. These German bureaucrats are highly efficient. I asked her, whether last time around, she hadn´t been sitting at another table to serve me. Well, seems they move around and get to another desk every day. Sort of keeps the place functional optimally and very focussed even though it still has a nice comfortable touch about it and not too official and office like at all: Colourful, light and inviting – even in the darkest time of winter.
Ha, mission accomplished and in next to no time I was heading back to my solitary cave. But before getting there next to St. Mary´s Sister Elisabeth was on her bicycle. So, we caught up with this and that – both grateful to see a known face alive and smiling. She´s been to a number of spiritual retreats and excercises recently, making the most of this forced shutdown according to the slogan: “Less is more!” Man, it´s good to see such a row of friendly faces – endearing, heartening, uplifting – and not just virtually, but very real.
Hopefully, You run into some friendly ones too today. Have a wonderful day – even as the forced isolation continues and we look forward to the 3rd Sunday in Advent – yearning for the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember the divine blessing, which talks very much of the triune God showing You His friendly face:
+++ The Lord bless and keep You. The Lord make His face shine upon You and be gracious to You. The Lord lift up His countenance upon You and give You peace +++
Remember God´s promises through the prophet Isaiah (40,1-11), which have been put to music by Johann Olearius (1611-1684) and translated into English by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1887). He means it – and it is for You too:
1 Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.
2 Yea, her sins our God will pardon,
blotting out each dark misdeed;
all that well deserved his anger
he no more will see or heed.
She hath suffered many a day,
now her griefs have passed away;
God will change her pining sadness
into ever-springing gladness.
3 For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all men to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way;
let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.
4 Make ye straight what long was crooked,Johann Olearius (1611-1684)
make the rougher places plain;
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now o’er earth is shed abroad;
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.