Posted in Literature, Spirituality

Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus

I wanted “in” with all the meanings this tiny word holds. The house was a place where I could think more about the tasks of being human, for it was where a very human Bonhoeffer lived – not only the Bonhoeffer of theologians, at times abstracted into ideas, and not only the heroic Bonhoeffer, gauzy, romantic, and two-dimensional. Here, I could imagine the man who rose early to read and meditate on the Bible, who ate oysters and played piano, who was captivated and instructed by art in so many forms, who sang boisterously and conversed brilliantly, who enjoyed all kinds of sports, who wrestled internally with himself, and who wrote fervent, fearful, and sometimes funny letters to friends and loved ones that still pierce hearts with their insight, vulnerability, and strength.

What a beautiful and timely book! “Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus” is not a biography as such (though you do get an overview of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life) but offers a unique blend of story and reflection. During her time in Berlin, the author was a volunteer guide at the house where Bonhoeffer’s parents lived and where he was arrested, causing her to reflect deeply on his life and legacy. She takes us along on her own journey of not just learning, but also of relating some of the principles and tensions she discovers to living in today’s world. The book was written prior to the current pandemic but reading it, as I did, in the midst of it, it seemed even more relatable and relevant!

I was so impressed with Laura Fabrycky’s humility in looking at Bonhoeffer’s life and decisions in the context of the time, and her intentionality in taking off her own cultural glasses. And all of that in a profound, but also very down-to-earth style.  Highly recommended!

 

True confession: Laura is a friend of mine and I had the privilege of having her as a guide at the Bonhoeffer Haus. Now reading her book, it is wonderful to see her writing match her enthusiasm in sharing in person, and the integrity with which she lives her life!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Layers of a City

So often I walk the streets of this city without really seeing. Everything is familiar, always the same. Until suddenly it is not.

I had enjoyed a wander around one of my favourite craft stores. It’s a cool place, so many fun things to get those creative juices flowing.

As I was leaving, I turned around to take a look back at the façade (which incidentally is pretty funky). That’s when I spotted it. A memorial plaque telling me that on this very spot, there used to stand a synagogue. The building was destroyed during the Reichskristallnacht of November 1938. At my feet, an indication of what likely happened to the people who would have attended the synagogue. Stolpersteine commemorating (what appear to be) three members of the same family, all deported and killed.

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A sudden glimpse of the many layers that make up this city. There’s the obvious – the many tourists, the expensive department store, the fun craft shop. Then there is what has gone before. The things we normally don’t see, made visible and brought into the present.

So much else I’m not seeing as I walk through my days. Stories happening in the lives of individuals I encounter. Hidden people, hidden groups, hidden dynamics. Layers upon layers.

I wonder what those layers look like in my apartment, on my street, in my neighbourhood? What’s gone before – what joy, what sadness, what tragedy, what ordinariness? All of it has shaped the place, has shaped who and what we are now.