The Ways of the Lord are
Berlin in March 2005
For five months I had intensive
contact now to the Jesuits in Germany, and in the context of a meeting of the vocation pastoral I was driven in March 2005 to Berlin into the Naunyn Street to Father Christian Herwartz, who invited my companions and me to make a day of retreat on the street.
was to ramble through Berlin for one day, and to look for God on the street. For this we should choose a fixed religious or spiritual centre from a list, and armed with a city plan get there. The way should be gone with Ignatian indifference, and we had to follow our inner impulse.
If our perception and our feeling should let us stay at a place, then this should happen. Moreover were communicated to us with the preparation talk as well different past experiences as certain instructions for the way, to which I will come later yet.
From the list of the spiritual places I selected a Buddhist temple in the northwest of Berlin. It was the only place on the list that inspired me somehow. Due to the map I estimated a walk of two hours.
Let me please mention here that it was my first stay in Berlin. So I set out from the open community toward the west into the early morning sun and biting frost. I hope, you had already once the opportunity to enjoy such a day: Frosty coldness, shining clearness - simply beautiful. A broad smile on my lips, and thanking the creator for this day I followed the will of my feet for about 45 minutes. I walked through streets which reminded me of my past life way - from the simple buildings of Kreuzberg up to the new media centre.
Here, at the place of my life of that period, I was seized by the same doubt which had led me also some months before to the Jesuits. I consulted my map, in order to state the fact that I had gone not very far from my starting point, and had covered some entwined ways - a further reflection of my life.
Hence I chose again my way in the direction to my aim, and followed my feet. Thus I arrived, after crossing 'Unter den Linden' and past the Charitée, at the Invalidenstraße. Here an urgent human need took possession of me, and paired with the hunger of the late morning I retired into a coffee-house. I imagined that the Invalidenstraße might - due to its name - have a home for the disabled, and perhaps I could find God here.
Among other things Father Herwartz had told us about previous participants of this experiment, who in the course of their retreat, had spent their time with humans who are normally living at the margin of society, and have only seldom somebody they can talk with. Hence I thought that perhaps an afternoon care in such a hospice could bring me nearer to my aim.
I found an old people's home and a park behind it. The home for the aged attracted me, you could say, magically. But I had not any notion how I should approach. Hence I sat down in the park first, on a bank beside a middle-aged man, who in the midday sun - to judge by the empties beside him - allowed himself his fourth bottle beer. But soon he went away, and so I sat alone in the park then. I could not get the old people's home out of my mind. So I went back the twenty five meters in the direction Invalidenstraße, and entered the place.
I explained to the lady at the reception that I wanted to offer myself gladly as interlocutor for old people who had had no visitors for years. Oh, what distrust met me. I felt like a criminal caught red-handed. Who I was, why did I want to do this? My complete personal data! Afterwards they informed me that they would contact me within the next two weeks, after arrangements with some "inmates" had been made, in order to make an appointment under strict supervision. Now I thanked politely, informed the lady of the fact that I was not for such a long time in Berlin, and set out again.
I had arrived at the most depressing point of my journey, and now I moved on rather aimlessly. After a short time I found a cemetery, and went for prayer into the chapel. Here I found again strength, and walked afterward lost in thought across the cemetery. All of a sudden I was at an exit and read the name of that street, on which the aim selected by me should be. I turned to the left and only some more meters distance - there it was. Trusting in the Lord you will always find the thing that should be found by you.
There was given to me some information about the altruistic side of Buddhism, and about its aim to further the personal development, which I could without difficulties apply to the motivation of the Jesuits, and which supported me by my search for an answer to my open question. Since I am rather a man of
action, it has been for me a very worthwhile experiment. I would like to enjoin it most warmly on each reader.