Tuesday, June 2
Berlin:: tour of Magdeberg/closing dinner/night in Berlin
I found some irony in that the last exhibit we saw was all about experience, process, symbolism, and seeking deeper meaning or understanding and almost no one liked it. 🙂 It is a great metaphor for the whole trip.
At Magdeberg there’s a cafe, with simple sheets of glass over what would have been open cloisters to the courtyard. It was the refectory. We sat in the courtyard for some time with our guides retelling the history, song birds chirped and I nearly feel off a bench—otherwise very relaxing. I was taking a few pictures of the capitals on the columns, each one is different from the next. Unusual. All nonrepresentational, no leaves or animals…not something I’ve seen.
Magdeberg, built as a Romanesque church, has the typical cross footprint. I think the guide said it was built in the 1064. The building was severely damaged. This one, unlike the others, maintained the Romanesque style when it was repaired in the 17th century. At that point it became a school. WWII nearly destroyed the cloisters there, everything was updated repaired just 50 years ago. They tried to stay true to what it would have looked like. Now it is a museum. The Norbertines were there until the 16th century. 4 holdouts stayed through the 30 Years War preventing the complete destruction of the monastery. Now it is simplified, all peripheral embellishments and art are minimal or modern. They have a 5000 pipe organ that could almost be an arts and crafts piece. The seating is unique, individual chairs that are more like hammocks than pews. At its pinnacle it would have had stained glass and other art. The church is used as a concert hall now.
One of the last stops on the tour was the cellar crypt, which we didn’t go in. And then the crypt under the organ and altar area, down a few stairs, which we did enter. There was a hall just big enough for the whole group–and attached was where St. Norbert would have been resting. The area where Norbert would have laid is only visible trough long narrow window about the size of my leg. St. Norbert was buried there until 1626, when the church became Protestant. At that point his remains were moved, that info was part of previous blogs.
We went on to visit a small parish near there for a picnic lunch in their garden. The pastor showed us around the church and we explored the gardens. It was so lovely and the weather was perfect. It was my last meal with the group. And a lot like a scene out of Downton Abbey (the TV series.) White linens and sunshine, glasses and grilled food neatly set out for us. It was a shame we couldn’t stay longer.
We all returned to the hotel via bus. I said good-bye…with an unexpected line of hugs from nearly everyone of these sweet people. They were off to get ready for the closing dinner together. I look forward to seeing their pictures.
All-in-all, I could not have asked for a better experience. I was quite tired for a few days but that can be expected. I have so many positive experiences and memories from this trip. The experiences were fantastic, but the people are what really made it special.
From my very first breakfast with Amanda and Lee, where we were talking about campus and our hopes for the trip…to my very last of the long line of hugs (I had to depart a little earlier than the rest) here are some memories:
Catherine may be the best seat-mate ever. She also really knows how to enjoy a city. (And we share a love of chocolate…sometimes with the whole bus but not always the Happy Hippos. Shh, don’t tell.)
Fr. Ted (bringing along the spirit of Fr. Andrew) may be the most knowledgeable person I’ve met in quite some time, everyone was impressed with him if not for that, because he’s just cool. It was awe-inspiring and enlightening to me to sit with him and Eric H. They CASUALLY picked up a conversation, that lasted over an hour, on 14th century life and ethics and overlap with the Norbertines (because obviously everyone knows a lot about Medieval life, ideas and 14th century Europe.) And his cohort Fr. Sal—always gregarious. It was fun to watch him reconnect with folks in all the Abbeys. He seems to know everyone!
And Catherine and I were row buddies with Julie and talked about everything from religion to dust bunnies. Her best “friend” Julie was also a pleasure to get to know. Stories about freaking her son out and connections in the community flowed freely.
There was no shortage of people to talk with!
I also spent some time with Eric and Faith at a great little cafe, pictures are posted. 🙂 As well as a few other meals just chatting about life, knitting, and faith and family. …Such a great couple.
I had the best blog partner on the planet—John really showed up for this event! I still have one more post from him to put up. We had a great time working together and talking through this adventure. I love his easy laugh and that he forbade Alison from contributing a blog…out of fear, I think. Alison and I could have really stirred the pot, between her “behind the scenes” sitting with John and “behind the blogger” perspective, AND that last contemporary art piece we saw, yep, maybe John was right…
I think the people I laughed with the most, which was only slightly more than the rest of the folks, were Sam and Eric W. Gosh, these two, so much fun. Random experiences with photo bombers who don’t know they are bombing, all the way to them ditching me at the train restaurant (but I got my drink delivered by miniature train and they didn’t so I think we’re even). Endless laughs–we never did put up the “dark blog” though.
At least Joe and Sue didn’t ditch me with the trains, I had such a nice time with them and Sally—and the lightest packers I’ve ever seen. Joe made me take all the extra food from our evening out and I randomly gave it back through the trip, to his surprise.
I may have harassed Sally Cubitt the most. I love her blue raincoat, she doesn’t love that I love it though. She really doesn’t love my photos of her in it. Following our Librarians (she and Rochelle) through Strahov was the best and a highlight. I don’t envy Strahov having to clean up all that drool.
Barb and Dave are some of the kindest people you could meet, between their grand-baby arriving and them trying to marry me off to their son, I’m won over. These are lovely people and are so easy to be with.
It was also rather inspiring to see Tom and Deb Kunkel in this light, how relaxed and personable they are. I enjoyed sitting with Deb talking quietly, frequently. St. Norbert is really lucky to have them.
I have never seen anyone wake up with as much energy as Nancy! Dan is awesome, she’s lucky to have him or she might just float away. I thought she and Ann were friends for a lifetime, nope, both just that personable and easy to connect with (and willing to poke you in the ribs with spoons.) We had the nicest conversations and sitting with them at the cultural dinner was absolutely in the top five experiences I had over there. AND! Oh my goodness does Ed have a terrific singing voice! Can’t forget Paul and Sarah, either–generous, kind and easy to be around, they’ve all got great stories and SNC history to share.
Fr. Jay, not sure how he does it…staying in a good mood, organizing and fixing details, taking the time to care for individuals and quietly going about blessing others. It is a pleasure to see him in action!
And last but not least, Mike and his Starbucks! I think he independently keeping them in business. Thank God there was one within blocks of the last few hotels, you could see him just relax…there was none to be found near the first few places, it caused some concern. Having been on, I think, 7 of these trips I loved his knowledge and stories about past adventures. He’s also got a glint in his eye—ready to tease and cause a little trouble which I appreciate!
I will miss waking up to breakfast with these 30 friendly faces.
I am blessed. My heart is full.