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Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas ~ 2007

Christmas was. . . that one searing moment as I stood with 70 other choristers singing, with the heart of a little boy. . . or the heart of the old shepherd that I am, from Bach's Christmas Oratorio:

Here I stand at Your crib
I give you all I have:
Take all of me, I have no more to give.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Berlin ~ Stuttgart ~ Black Forest

Late flight from Berlin, Schönefeld. Stuttgart airport brightly lit but hardly anyone inside. Short heartfelt goodbyes to Nikolaus, our gracious host, then walked away buoyed up. Mechtild and I headed for our Black Forest havens. Got into deep snow. Autobahn restaurant for coffee. Smoking forbidden. It was 3 a.m. when we finally arrived. Sat in the car and talked. What a trip! And there was still such a lot more to talk about.

Saturday Moning in Berlin ~

A Saturday morning. We breakfasted and went to the Sony Center, Berlin's spectacular new meeting place at Potsdamer Platz. Then for a change we all went our separate ways. I walked. And walked until I was out of the great city. Maybe it was too much for me, I thought. It felt good to be where kids were playing in the street. But I felt lonely. Like a stranger. All the pictures of Berlin in W.W.II came back, then the daring Airlift and the DC-3s flying overhead to keep the grandparents of these Berliners sustained. The Soviet presence so mightily stated in architecture and monuments. The Wall. The Reichstag and the shimmer of swastikas, the cafeteria where we had lunch, where outside in the courtyard the Graf Stauffenberg, after his unsuccessful attempt to assasinate Hitler, stood before a firing squad and was shot down. The bewildering burden of history during my own lifetime was suffocating.

I had walked so far that I had to hail a taxi and be driven back into the City Center where the group had planned to meet.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Markus ~ Heart of the Group

Markus was the instigator of our trip. He wanted to get us together again after that great weekend last May in that quaint Black Forest hotel. In Berlin he is looking out for us, finding restaurants, subway connections, sites. He is the heart of the group. A great conversationalist, always delving into a interesting subjects concerning old school days. Open and frank, genuine; not shying away when a matter gets delicate. I marvel at my old student . . . but think I saw the man he is today in the teenager of yesteryears.

His children were always calling on the cell phone. Can't wait till he gets home. I understand. . .
Christmas 2008

I hung the decorations that Markus's daughter Johanna made for me on our Christmas tree.

Stephanie ~ At Home in Berlin

Stephanie, our Black Forest girl who ended up living and working in Berlin, joined us at this restaurant that evening. We knew she was very busy and might not make it. She had just had the unsavory task of handing out 15 notices to employees where she works. That done, she came.

What a charming young woman she is! She attracted our attention with her stories about how she had tried to cushion the bad news and reach mutual settlements. While telling, all her old warmth and heart came back. . . just like in the old days in the Senior class when both Nikolaus and Markus had had a crush on her. . . Didn't I see some light sparkling in their eyes again?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Night at the Theater ~ Berlin

Approaching the theater Nikolaus extended his arm saying: This has been my living room ever since I've been in Berlin! We went in, had cocktails, saw a remarkable Brecht play. Appreciative applause, scene for scene.

Afterwards over wine, Nikolaus surprised us with news that he will be making his first appearance in a Berlin cabaret next month.

Next day he took me to Brecht's house in the Chauseesstrasse for a private guided tour by a charming actress who was on stage the night before. The cemetery was near the house and we stood for some minutes at Brechts's unpretentious grave.

Holocaust Memorial ~ Berlin

It was evening and dark when we walked through this field of granite slabs. Eventually we were submerged and could not see out over. It seemed as if there was only one orientation to get my bearings from: Auschwitz.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New National Gallery ~ Berlin

Next morning Mechtild and I headed for the National Gallery. We stood there looking at the sculptures outside around this building, especially this Henry Moore piece, for at least half an hour. Mechtild is a sculptress herself and it was wonderful to exchange views with her. Going inside, looking intently, we managed only four or five works, all sculptures.

Over coffee I leaned over, looked Mechtild in the eye told her how she could run rings around me as a teacher. What a smile she gave me!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Class of '82 ~ Berlin

. . . and you're coming with us, they said. So here we are catching the evening flight from Stuttgart to Berlin. Already Nikolaus is waiting for us at Schönefeld. When you get here I'm taking you up to the restaurant on top of the TV tower at Alexanderplatz, he says. The visibility is great. We're going make a toast to Berlin . . . and to you!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Venezuela ~

It must have been a bitter awakening for President Chávez to have to hear that his people didn't want a dictator. That they would prefer democracy to him.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Morning Prayer ~

I sit here thinking of the myriad possibilities of where I might be at this moment: in hospital bed or in a casino in Vegas, in a prison or in a shack on the Mexican border. But here I am in in this church rehearsing the sublime choral music of Johann Sebastian Bach for a Christmas concert.

How fortunate I am. . . And my heart soars toward You in gratitude.

Friday, November 30, 2007

For Tamara ~

For Tamara

When the light breaks through,
when our hearts beat with yours
Tamara dear,
then we know that we too
have been refined by the fires
of Auschwitz you knew
for our lives have changed,
having learned from you
and your hands' work
what faith, hope and love
can do.

Tamara Deuel : Auschwitz Survivor, Poetess, Sculptress.

We corresponded, each encouraging the other to focus on Auschwitz in our art, to keep Auschwitz alive in people's memory, especially in the young. 

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+ June 26, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Forlorn ~

Do the stars shine friendly down at me tonight blinking through such small radiant eyes, or are they cold? They seem to be holding back all the glory that is behind, dispensing of it in miserly measured portions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beauty ~

I look into faces and find that the most beautiful are those that have suffered most.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Christians ~

The Archbishop of Baltimore has ordered Father Ray Martin to resign as pastor of three churches and sign a statement apologizing for "bringing scandal to the church".

Father Martin was cited for the liturgical offence of celebrating a funeral Mass with several clergy including a very close friend of the deceased, Rev. Annette Chappell, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Redemption. She read the Gospel.

He was also cited for the administrative offence of hiring a maintenance man who had criminal charges on his record.

My Lord! . . . we Catholics!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Compassionate Bomb ~

I heard on the radio that the Russians have developed the most potent bomb in existence. It spreads less pollution and does less damage to the environment. Did I hear that right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Soothing Darkness ~

It was dark this morning and foggy. With my coat collar up around my ears I felt hugged and somehow protected. Walking across the fields I could see nothing but the path passing under my feet. In the distance the sound of cars rushing to their urgent destinations.
Oh darkness, stay! . . . How will I ever be able to face the bright, glaring days of spring when everyone is so happy and dancing blithely around the maypole?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Never-Ending Search ~

Deus, deus meus est, sollicite te quaero. Te sitit anima mea, desiderat te caro mea . . . Ps. 62

God, my God, I search for You with a disquieted heart. My soul longs for You, my flesh yearns for You . . .

I went to the old monk and asked him where I should look for my obscure God Who is always hiding from me. He turned to me, smiled and said: Everywhere.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Night of Broken Glass - November 9, 1938 [Burning of the Synogogues]

I often wonder if I would have had the inner strength and courage, had I been here in Germany then, to stand up against the omnipresent subtle magic and brutal terror of Hitler's seduction. I wonder. . .

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bent on Winning ~

Never liked sports or games where the point was to triumph over the other person. But often I heard them saying there must be something wrong with me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Listening ~ Hearing

It happened this evening. I was sitting in concert listening to a Haydn String Quartett when I felt the music changing everything around me, the sounds full of secrets and mystery. It was as if a door were opening into a white room and there was harmony and tranquility there and the feeling that everything I had ever hoped for had come true. And for a short moment I felt as if I were so much more than myself.

Friday, October 26, 2007


In restaurants they took away all the ashtrays. And now even forbidden smoking in the bars. Have heard no complaints.

Gasoline sells for $7.10 a gallon. Everyone drives, and pays.

The railroads and subways go on strike once a week. Commuters take it in stride.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


While driving this morning I listened to an inspired Clara Haskil play a Piano Concerto by Mozart and couldn't help but think how flabby my emotional equipage is in comparison with theirs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First Illusion ~

Mama was still in bed. We gave him a picture of her but instead of eating his breakfast he spent the whole time kissing her behind the picture glass.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Morning Visit

The red ball of rising sun shone across our lawn this morning to a bowl of geraniums at the dining room window and lit them with a soft, heated glow. During breakfast we felt their warmth and couldn't help but marvel at their radiant beauty.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Letting Go of Summer ~

Where has the summer gone? I see it now in the brown fields . . and feel it as I walk on the carpet of damp leaves under my feet on my path.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

God's Little Wonder

My son, Martin, and his Barbara just had a baby. We sped to them. I held the little fellow in the palm of my hand and fingered his black hair. Overwhelmed by the fresh arrival from heaven.

At the same moment I had to think of my father's head which I held for ten minutes in the palm of my hand until the heat had gone out . . .

Thursday, October 04, 2007

St. Francis of Assisi ~

Francis, the man who wanted to possess nothing . . . so that he could better love.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Plucked Away ~

My sister Nancy phoned to tell me that her husband, Rick, had died suddenly.
I thought back to our jaunt on a sunny Saturday just six weeks ago in his red convertible when he said: Come on, I'll take you to see your Perry Como. We were both in such high spirits.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Feast of St. Augustine ~

"Too late have I come to love You, O beauty so ancient and so fresh; too late have I come to You", you said. 

And centuries later I learned to love Him early, Augustine, sitting there as a teenager, reading your words, in the seminary chapel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Frankfurt, Germany ~

I stepped onto the train in Frankfurt and it sped off to the south. The people seemed different, I heard the first sounds of German again. They were not Americans, they were going other ways, thinking other thoughts. Nevertheless, somehow I knew that I belonged here with them. It has become my home. . . Those whom I love are here. That, I know, is everything. What more could I want?

Over France into Germany

Ready for the new day I looked at the wing of that stalwart Boeing 777 and paid my thanks and respect to her for what she had done. Somehow I felt one with her. Descending slowly now, I knew she had brought me back.

Over the Ocean

Purring through the night across the ocean at an altitude of 12,000 meters and speeding at 850 km/h I sat in stillness writing these impressions. When morning light came I looked out across an endless majestic carpet of clouds on which landscapes of hills, towers and mountains were formed, all energized by a bright light only seen up this high. I thought the psalmist must have imagined a sight like this when he was composing his praises to God for his wonderful creation. With him I thanked God for all the beauty that He had allowed me to see.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Over the Ocean ~

The two ladies that sat behind me spoke with such a charming, lilting Southern accent that I had to cock my ear and listen. They talked until late into the night. All the while it seemed as if a gentle music were coming from behind.

Over the Ocean

While flying over Canada and Newfoundland I had a little bracer — a Jim Beam on the rocks. Then, a short time after, a delicious meal along with a California red.

Flying back to Detroit

She was 87, the lady beside me, heading for Raleigh, North Carolina. Grandchildren there, and elsewhere. She could drive it, she said, but likes to fly. Gets me around faster, she whispered, with a twinkle in her eye.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~ Departing

Stayed overnight with Nancy, my sister. We took our morning walk together. It was raining. Under umbrellas we walked in silence but each of us knew what the other one was thinking. We had breakfast, a little extended agape. Talked about Mother and Dad. The way things were. It had stopped raining when we walked out the driveway. I looked up at the trees. Then we got in the car and were off to the airport.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Butler, Pennsylvania ~ Departing

My brother Jack's house on Washington Street. I stand here looking. Jack's Ann is fighting her battle with cancer. When Jack dies the last of us will have been taken from this spot on the globe, our earthly home. Oh, dear little town of Butler where my fondest memories lie entombed . . . it is hard, ever harder to leave you, not knowing whether I'll return.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Butler, Pennsylvania

She invited us for drinks, Catherine, whose husband Bill, my teaching colleague at Point Park College and golfing friend, left her five years ago. She talked lovingly about him. Showed us the rooms she since has redecorated. Bill's too. I noticed she still had his bathrobe hanging there on a shiny brass hook.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Butler, Pennsylvania ~ St. Paul's Church

Sunday Mass at St. Paul's. Sang with the choir. Looked down at the sanctuary where I spent my boyhood serving at this altar. Through younger eyes I saw only green marble steps, candles, the Gothic arches. But then I thought I was standing in the modest church in our little village in Germany where, through older eyes, I would now be gazing down upon an altar and see surrounding it, the great wonder and the mystery.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania ~

Found a quaint little restaurant where delicious homemade cherry pie sells for $1.00 a slice.

Butler, Pennsylvania

A few people still know me at home, but I notice how the memory of my parents is fading as the younger generations coming on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Butler, Pennsylvania ~

Drove by the beautiful home we lived in for so many years. What is it like inside now? Does Mother's, does Dad's spirit still linger there? Should I knock at the door and see?

Butler, Pennsylvania ~

Stood at gravesites of mother and father. There are no flowers. Just grass. They are alone. Nearby, our obelisk. There is room for me and my family. The question arises: Here? Or there?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Philadelphia Street ~

She pranced across the street that morning, a stand-out beauty, elegantly dressed in black, postured high above the others it seemed. She walked briskly, exultantly. I watched her turn the corner, disappear. First class Philadelphian, for sure.

My brother and I walked through Washington Park and then on to Walnut Street on our way to City Hall when I happened to see her again, sitting on a bench close to the street curb, her smooth, bare legs crossed, leafing, blasé, through a magazine, waiting for a pick-up.

State College, Pennsylvania

Stopped at the University of Pennsylvania on our way back home. A wonderful sprawling campus in a valley surrounded by woods. 43,000 students. All on vacation. But the football team was practicing for the upcoming Notre Dame game. We walked in to Arts Museum. There in the entrance, a Chihily, fulgent with color. I walked over to it like to an old friend.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ~

My brother was celebrating his birthday so I took him to one of Philadelphia's oldest restaurants, Bookbinder's. Sedate oaken dining room, excellent food. The maitre d' treated us as honored guests. Recommended German wine. The couple at the table next to us were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. Asked what had held the marriage together for all that time: I like his shaving lotion, he likes my perfume!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ~

At the motel I refused to watch television. In America you are bombarded with commercials. They are insidious, yes, a curse.

Philadephia, Pennsylvania ~

Caught in the swirl of throbbing Philadelphia I thought about the quiet peace of my Black Forest village where, devoid of distractions, I feel myself so much closer to those things in life that really matter.

Jottings inside the Museum of Fine Arts ~

Art is busy trying to express realities in ways more understandable than the reality itself.
The poet asks: What words must I conjure up to make beauty lift her veil?

Philadephia, Pennsylvania ~ Museum of Fine Arts ~

She was seen in a church hall in her traditional Black Forest costume but instead of a prayer book she was holding a musical instrument she was about to play for the birthday celebration of the local pastor. I remember the demure looking askance, the modest dropping of the eyes.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ~

Others wouldn't stop but a friendly black girl went out of her way, asking two other couples for information, to tell me where I should catch the bus for the museum.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ~

A Chinese couple stood beside me as I read the original Declaration of Independence.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ~

People waited in long lines, patiently, to get into the rooms where our Founding Fathers debated and brought forth the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. How close the figures came: Washington, Ben Franklin, the redheaded Thomas Jefferson, John Adams. One makes a pilgrimage to a cradle like this. It is a hallowed place.

Lancaster to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ~

On the train we passed through the lush Amish country. Beautiful farms. Men working the fields with teams of horses. Modest stone homesteads. White barns. Nothing has changed in the last 200 years. No electricity, no cars. Devout people. I felt they were close to the earth, and by being so, close to God.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania ~

I walked out before breakfast into a bursting rising sun. Walked along the edge of a cornfield and thought the whole time about the young 24-25 year olds, young lovers, who went into battle here in the Civil War, and had to die in these fields. I thought that after having had to experience the horrible spiritual death of being wrenched apart from the girl they loved, they must have faced their bodily death in the enemy's fire, willingly.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lancaster, Pennsylvania ~

Evening walk through the downtown area. There were no people on the streets. Looked through wrought iron gates into a courtyard with a fountain and where people were dining. There was a policewoman on duty there. We talked. She told us to be very careful, to best be off the streets. Awful things happen there at night. The week before someone had been shot to death just one block away.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mass in a Greek Orthodox church. The priest spoke movingly about Mary in aesthetic terms, telling that it was her beauty resulted in her becoming the fitting tabernacle God chose to house Himself in.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

Sofie is Jonathan's daughter. He is divorced and might soon be marring our Alexandra. Sofie is a delightful 9 year old who likes to hear me at the piano. Whenever I played her song, Edelweiss, she would come and sit next to me on the piano bench.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

It was a heartwarming scene, the old couple in the store. They were lined up and paying for their many purchases that consisted in large part of cookies. A boy pushed their cart out to their SUV and they walked, hand in hand, and carefully stowed their cache.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

Visited the Carnegie Museum. Exhibition of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly. Couldn’t pull myself away from his intriguing creations. He learned glassblowing techniques at the Murano school in Venice and brought it to the States. His Italian teachers learned to admire him for his spontaneity and freedom of expression.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

While shaving this morning I looked out the window and saw two full-grown deer in the back yard standing in the bushes eating the berries.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania ~

Had to stop here to pay homage to Perry Como. Stood silently at his monument in his hometown square and thanked him for the songs he sang that have lightened my life. I listened for him to sing. . . If you were the only girl in the world . . .

Bethany, West Virginia ~

Took a short jaunt to West Virginia. Visited Bethany College. No students on campus but we ran into two women from the clean-up crew who began to tell us about their 17 years of service there. Talked with them for half an hour. They were devoted to the students and for many of them a substitute parent. Knew all the professors. I could see them becoming prouder minute by minute as they spoke. Saying goodbye, it all ended with long, hearty handshakes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

Invited to lunch at the sedate Pittsburgh Athletic Club across from the University of Pittsburgh. In spite of the horrific heat all the men wore suits and ties. Ladies were well dressed, sheer and colorful. Some had fans. A pianist at a Steinway.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

Morning walk in Virginia Manor. Tranquility along the path. Heard robins, cardinals, bluejays— birds I miss in Germany. It seemed as if they had come out to welcome me back.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Flight: Detroit, Michigan to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~

She sat beside me, wife of a Marine, mother of two teenagers eager to join. She was very concerned about that but knew they would be enlisting soon. Her eyes filled. Said she was so happy that her husband had made it through Vietnam.

Over the Ocean ~

Oh, the distance! If I were not flying back to what was once home, I would feel completely lost and alone. Up over Scotland along the edge of Iceland over Newfoundland, Canada into Detroit, Michigan, to board there again for Pittsburgh. All in 9 hours. By ship it takes 8 days. Home is far away. Easier to arrive there poetically, and on a deeper level, spared of stark, unpleasant realities.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Home ~ Trip to the the U.S.A. ~

I am flying back home, to Butler, Pennsylvania, I say. But where is home? I have lived in Germany for so long. Is there really a home somewhere?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On the Autobahn ~

It is through longing, lacking, and pain that everything opens to us, I thought, as I sat in the back seat looking at the posh cars laden with vacation equipment passing us on the autobahn.

Monday, July 09, 2007

De diligendo Deo ~

I would be searching for You to love if I only knew I could reach You. But I don't even know Who You are. To love You I need to have something I can grasp onto.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Consolation? ~

There is more to be learned in bearing loss, the old monk said, than in the rapture of bliss.

Lausanne, Switzerland ~

It was pleasantly warm last Saturday evening as we sat in a restaurant at the edge of Lake Geneva eating fresh perch. The moon was hovering in the sky and reflecting on the calm lake. A glass of wine, a cigarette. There were long pauses in our conversaion, four or five whole minutes without a word, when we were just looking and trying to fathom the beauty of what we were seeing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Visit to Dresden, Germany ~

I walked in the streets of Dresden, rebuilt now and magnificent after being bombed by our planes and British planes in 1945, marvelling at its new beauty — but still could hear the low hum of the bombers in the distance, coming in from the west.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heavenly Delight ~

Did you see the chimney swallows? They’re back! Their flight absolutely delightful to watch. And when they come in groups, at high speed, curving around the trees and down across our garden, chirping, I feel the show is just for me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pain and Suffering ~

It is easier to associate ourselves with pain and suffering than with joy — just because we are more acquainted with them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Turning the Tables ~

Spent a wonderful weekend with old students of mine ['82 grads] in a quaint Black Forest hotel. They lavished appreciation on me for little things I did an said back then, that they said supported them. I came away with the grateful feeling of being their student now and of being carried on their strong shoulders.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Being Poor ~ Having Everything ~

Once you have found your true love nothing else matters. You want to shed everything else to concentrate on the beloved.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Finding Words for What We Know ~

These few perceptive words I heard spoken yesterday: "It is a loving sustained attention that reveals beauty."

Criminal Activity ~

Now they are thinking of setting up a special police group to enforce non-smoking in restaurants. If you are caught smoking you can be fined anywhere from 20 to 2,000 Euros.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blacksburg, Virginia ~

Virginia Tech University

Shooting on campus. 32 dead, 21 wounded.

The locals said the winds rose to carry the angels down so they could take the children home.

Is There Any Consolation? ~

In the vinyards along the Rhein near here a 13 year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and murdered. No clues. And yesterday in Heilbronn, a city known for its ties with the Romantic literary tradition, a 22 year old policewoman was shot in the head and died. No clues. She had just finished her training for the profession she had always dreamed of, had just found boyfriend with whom she had fallen in love.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Someone is Greeting You ~

For anyone who happens upon this blog, I hope this is an uplift for the day.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

From Tamara ~

Dear Charles,
Hopefully everything is ok in your part of the world. However, the growing anti-semitism in Germany and the rest of Europe does not make me very happy.

I wrote to a selection of different places with the emails you gave to me but nobody answered. In my opinion it does not fit the Europe I knew, even when the answer is in the negative, but this was apparently the world of yesterday. I am learning every day not to have expectactions and just be thankful for what I have and what comes.

I hope that you are in a creative period. New events are happening all of the time in the world and in the lives of individuals and especially for people who are creating. I want to share with you a new site of my art of 2006 with some of the poetry I have written. I am together with an American sculptor who in my opinion is doing unusual works having to do with the Holocaust and the journey of souls to another dimension.  
I hope to hear from you.
Warm regards,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Good Friday Liturgy ~

Stood in the choir loft on Good Friday and sang. The atmosphere was overwhelming. The sad tonality of the singing, the absence of organ and lighting and the half-darkness in the nave, the eery porcession with cross. It was later, after the ceremony, that I noticed what it had done to me, causing an extreme down-heartedness, mixed with a strange kind of joy. I was unable to shake it off on Easter Sunday and on into the week.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Search for Something New ~

Read in the newspaper this morning that the first victim of "coma boozing" died this week. This is the lastest fad among teenagers here in Germany.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

World's Oldest Benedictine Monk ~

He recently turned 106. He is doing just fine. At 99 he started to learn Spanish. When he was 100 he set out to learn how to operate a computer. His ardent desire: to one day go home to his Maker.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lighting Up the World ~

Just think for a moment what it would be like if a baby couldn't do this.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Concert: J. S. Bach, Mass in B minor ~

When the concert ended there was dead silence, a pause of 135 seconds before audience started to applaud.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Displaced Persons ~

There was a remarkable show on German TV the last two evenings. It was the story of aristocratic German family in East Prussia that had to flee, along with their indentured servants, among whom there were several French prisoners, from the approaching Russian armies in 1945. I had read an account by another person who had gone through the same harrowing experience, Marion Hedda Ilse Countess Dönhoff in her book: Names No Longer Used: East Prussia - People and History. She participated in the resistance against Hitler's National Socialists with Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, Peter Yorck von Wartenburg, and Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. After the war, she became one of the leading German journalists and intellectuals.

A close friend of mine made the trek with his parents from Breslau to Bavaria when he was just four years old.

Friday, March 02, 2007

General Robert E. Lee ~

Then I ran across this observation by the famous Civil War tactician:

"It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dixie Chicks: No Ready to Make Nice ~

Bought that CD, Taking the Long Way, by the Dixie Chicks. I like their singing, especially Not Ready to Make Nice. Full of emotion set to feisty lyrics.

In light of their Bush statement in 2003, these girls have shown us an admirable courage.

Friday, February 16, 2007

J. S. Bach ~ Mass in B minor ~

Preparations are going well for our performance of this sublime work in March. I am able to sing passages that I never thought I could sing. It is amazing. It must be the woman who is directing us. Somehow her enthusiasm, knowledge and love for music awaken something in me that makes what little singing talent I have actually better than it has ever been. And also, it is the challenge of trying to keep up with the genius of Bach.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Reverses ~

Someone asked me if I could remember how practically the whole world was behind the U.S.A. just after Nine-Eleven. How much goodwill toward our nation has been destroyed?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

God's Search ~

The old monk said: God is busy searching for you. That is why He keeps tugging at your heart.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snow Welcome ~

Our first winter snow has finally arrived and made our village over again. Everything seems to be new and fresh. When I stand at my window and look out into the white I begin to feel that inside me some such change in my interior landscape might have happened, unnoticed, like a snowfall during the night. On awakening though, I am completely astonished at the change that has been brought about.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Morning Spectacle ~

At seven thirty in the morning when I take my walk I look up into the eastern sky and there is the morning star. The sky is bright already and other stars have disappeared, but the morning star still graces the heavens. Near it this morning there was a thin sliver of the waning moon.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Christmas Gift ~

Two weeks before Christmas an old student of mine, an '82 grad, called and said he just wanted to hear my voice. I was so moved I was lost for words.