I am writing this from bed- soft pillows, open window- light drizzle, mindnight-ish here in Rome. I was just digitally sifting through the photos I have taken over the past several days…… these photos reflect both what I find attractive, compelling- whatever…. my sight, my perspective.
Berlin was (according to what I shot) a very sobering dose of reality.
As a student of history- I of course went to Berlin with the holocaust in mind (and Hitler, Eva Braun, Himmler, Goebbels- WWII, systematic murder, Stalin, occupation, the arms race, cold war, The Wall).
Everywhere we went the history I wanted a glimpse of was present. The oppressive stink of human depravity, the evidence of the deep terror of war- the psychological possibilities of BADNESS- all there. Unavoidable really.
So, West Germany was occupied by the Americans after WWII – and as far as I can tell it seems very, well, American (very western/capitalist). Makes sense. The formerly DDR run section of the city feels different to me- scary and gray. Of course this is partly true- it inherently would be different- but really it’s more me, my thing. I mean, the street corners in this area are covered with guys selling big Russian fur hats and communist paraphernalia (hammer and sickle flasks, etc). The German people have been dealing with all of this stuff- as it happened. So- of course things/realities have been being lived out in the best ways possible….. you pick up, start anew- and in the end it appears as if making some Euros – and making fun of it (DDR)- is the way to go.
Perhaps. I can’t tell. I wasn’t there long enough.
They do have a store dedicated to the DDR brands of yore – and a DDR museum full of postcards (of factories and astronauts), plastic chicken cups (which I didn’t understand) and pickled things.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I felt the weight of all that history in a really heavy way. Aaron did too.
There was a night of no sleep in Berlin. Of course I had been to the Jewish Museum, the Topography of Terror and to the remnants of The Wall – (watched Auschwitz documentaries all night too). I was jet lagged but I don’t believe that was the problem.
I will take my one sleepless night to carry these stories with me, if that’s what it takes (and many more)…. to do whatever I can to help, to build, to grow- something good. I am glad to break the insular spell I have the privilege of existing in if I so choose.
The big picture is tough. The big picture is scary.
But the big picture misses the detail: the capacity for love, for forgiveness.
I am in Rome and it is getting chilly. It’s getting late. It is easy to get lost here (in the good way).
I walked through St. Peter’s Basilica today and stood in awe of the works of centuries – the vastness, the beauty. It is a sacred space.
I knelt in a chapel. I said a prayer for the humans.
For me and mine.