Saturday, November 15, 2014


Say, every nation were to be reduced to one single date; Germany without doubt would be allocated the 9th of November:
In 1918 German monarchy came to an end, in 1923 the failed Beer Hall Putsch marked a provisional downfall of the Nazi Party as an important player on Germany's political landscape, in 1938 large scale destruction of Jewish property by the Nazi regime caused the death and suffering of many Jews, and in 1989 the fall of the Berlin wall ended German separation. The good, the bad and the important of German history neatly summarized in a single day.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Lichtgrenze was an art project to commemorate the significant event. Throughout the entire city a total of 8 000 individual lights were placed along the route of the former wall - 15km in length, one light every two or so meters. On the eve of the 9th, the balloons on top of the lights were released into the dark and cold November night sky one after another, leaving behind only the faded memory of what once separated the nation.

The city was buzzing and there were people gathered everywhere. Young and old, locals and tourists - it seems everyone was outside, not wanting to miss the celebrations. The atmosphere was jubilant and people cheered at the release of every single balloon. Fireworks accompanied the joyous shout-outs and amidst of it all I couldn't help but thank God for His indispensable favor on the turn of events 25 years ago.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Neue Heimat

All summer I have been enjoying Neue Heimat. Mostly I went with friends after church on Sunday nights. We bought exotic foods from their stalls for dinner and crisp white wine to be drunk in the candlelight for the merry conversations. It was lovely. Atmospheric. The best end to the weekend.

We are still going occasionally - despite summer being over and the cold creeping in. Its two halls aren't the best for keeping warm but the mulled wine now sold in the pre-Christmas season never fails to come to the rescue.

It has Berlin written all over it - cool, hipster, sparse. It doesn't matter where you've come from or where you'll go. For a brief period all that matters is who you are at this moment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Eve

It's the night before my birthday and for the first time since I got home from work, I am sat down - breathing, thinking, being without an agenda. I made four cakes today, skyped a friend in-between, cleaned the apartment, cooked dinner and roasted some butternut squash for lunch tomorrow.

This past hour I spent reading through my journal from the year gone by. It wasn't much to read because there wasn't much I journaled about. Majority of the time, I couldn't talk to God nor did I want to nor did have impacting revelations I couldn't but write down. This past year was a quiet one - instead of talking, God was doing. He was with me. He protected, cared, invested and changed me.

I came across the following paragraph on a random website a day or two after my last birthday. The words written still move me deeply and the truth of it makes my heart ache. It pierces right through me and I can almost hear God whispering His approval and affirmation:

There’s something so beautifully powerful and incredibly humble in knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be, but that place stretching and tearing and hurting your deepest of deeps. It’s as though God has put both hands on your cheeks, pulled your face in close, and said “I love you enough to bring you to this place, and never to leave you here, Darling.” He wants to use and grow and beautify these hearts, not leave them stagnant to wither away alone. See, an active Kingdom heart dances with as many people as it can. And soon enough, you’ll see His confetti sprinkle and dazzle the world around you, everywhere you go.

Because He loves us enough to use us, and never leave us alone.

This is is the story. I would have not chosen it for myself but I am glad He did.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bigger, louder, better?

The other day I briefly skimmed an article about the world's quietest room. As his closing remarks, the author revealed that the longest man has ever lasted inside the room amounts to a mere hour. I immediately contested the article because surely man could last longer than that - I mean, I probably could stay in there for a week! My slightly big-headed proposition was the result of a week marked by stress, noise and information-overload. Big cities are loud places and in moments of over-sensitisation, when all the noise is competing for your attention, the ordinary becomes draining: The chatter of people echoing the streets. The droning traffic. The ambulances making their way to the nearest hospital. The closing doors of public transport. The construction work outside the office. The soon-to-die computer trying to keep up with simple tasks. The chirping birds. Even the rain banging against your window. True quietness does not exist.

Fast forward to the Sunday of that particular week. I went to church, as always. The band was playing, people were clapping, the pastor was speaking - and there was not a single moment of stillness. Even when we were waiting for the Lord to minister to people, the piano was being played in the background and someone somewhere was talking. It seems to me, that in the purpose-driven lifestyle of people, quietness has become something uncomfortable - something that better be avoided. And churches make no exception. I observe how - more and more so - worship sets are turned into rock concerts, where the sound of the instruments cancels out the voices of the congregation, where colourful lights are wildly circulating around the room, where the quality of performance becomes more important than bringing Him praise. I observe pastors speaking louder and louder, almost screaming, to emphasise the importance of a point made. I observe how the congregation is encouraged to respond back to the things said with a happy "Hallelujah" instead of quietly pondering the thought.

Don't get me wrong - it is by no means my intention to bash modern forms of worship or the exclamation of support during the service. I like singing my praises accompanied by a good worship band, I like scripture being projected onto the wall with a nice soothing background, and sometimes I even like saying a "yes" in agreement - I am all in for it. Yet,  I am advocating that we as the church stop competing with this mad lifestyle of stress, noise and impressing people that dominates life outside the church. The Kingdom of God is upside-down and counter-cultural. We do not need to speak louder and be flashy in order to be heard and taken seriously. We really don't.

This Easter, when I went back to Scotland and attended the Easter Sunday service of my old church, I saw that God is most powerful in the quiet. Within seconds of the band playing the first chords of an old hymn, the uniting voices of the congregation grew louder and louder - eventually drowning the sound of the instruments. I remember vividly how the deep humming voices of the men mingled with the chirping voices of the women. I kept thinking this is what Heaven must be like. It was utterly beautiful. And then, when the song finished and people were catching their breath after singing from the top of their lungs, there was a stillness for a split second or two. A brief moment of quietness that bundled up all the contentment and satisfaction there ever was and ever is to come. To me, it was that moment of stillness that was most inviting.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Wisdom of the New Year's Cracker

Similar to the British tradition of Christmas crackers, Germans have their very own version of being charmed by a little toy and a silly attempt of wisdom. Every year on New Year's Eve we abandon our voice of reason and gleefully try to decipher whatever cryptic message we receive after popping the cracker. Back in 2012, the meaning of the little piece of paper I received totally bypassed me and - approximately 3 minutes later - I forgot about it all together. Today, little over a year later, I still don’t remember but I think the “wisdom”-part of it all finally hit home – and trust me, it was not because the meaning transpired after all. Instead, I simply lived. 2013 was intense and I conclude that, in hindsight, this is what my New Years Cracker should have read instead:

There is a silver lining to everything. 
2013 was bittersweet. It was probably the hardest year of my life - but also the most necessary year to happen. I experienced exhilarating heights, which in return made the lows feel so much worse. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I have this past year – from silent tears just spilling down my face to loud weeping, sobbing and wailing: Been there, done that. Silver lining you ask? Well, I may have cried a lot but I also drank a lot of water because crying makes you extremely thirsty. If you think about it, it all makes perfect sense, but I doubt I would have ever known.

Just like adding water to instant food leaves you with a meal, buying a sofa makes you an adult instantly.
Up until my early twenties I wondered how I would ever know know that I am an adult. I had hoped for a live-changing event – however, when the signing of my first apartment lease during my first year of university did not quite conjure the emotions of adulthood I had hoped for, I surrendered my expectations. Instead, I started to believe that the transition into adulthood was a gradual adjustment to a lifestyle dominated by engagements, weddings and babies after all. 2013, though, proved me wrong: I bought a sofa and never before in my life have I felt so grown-up.

Trains. Always. Win.
So I have this very generalizing and only-by-my-own-experiences-verified theory. I call it “Of Trains and Tracks” and essentially, this is what it says: Culturally and behaviorally, the British resemble tracks. They are rather gentle, happy to not stray too far away from the beaten track and too polite to make actual decisions – their life is just like that of a train track whose path has been pre-determined by someone else. Germans, on the other hand, are like trains. Loud, push-overs and quite sure of where they are going. Now, while it surely is no problem to be a track among many tracks, or even to be a train among tracks, I very quickly learned that being a track among many trains leaves at the mercy of a whole bunch of people.

Sometimes we must forgive God.
To all my theology friends out there, hear me out; I know that theologically we have no legitimate basis that would ever grant us the right to forgive God, but sometimes we need to put the “how-it-ought-to-be’s” aside and deal with reality. If we feel wronged, let down, left alone, or hurt by God, then – regardless of whether it is rational – we need to deal with it. If feelings of disappointment endanger and intoxicate our relationship with Him, then we not only need to readjust our understanding of God but we also need to forgive Him. Just like we would do with any other friend.

To be fully known and yet loved surpasses everything. 
And this is where it ends. I moved twice this year and a total of 8 times within the last 5 years and the single most important thing I have learned is that no matter where we are, and no matter by whom we are surrounded, and no matter what the circumstances are, we can love and we can allow to be loved. To be vulnerable, to cry, to laugh, and to live life where there is love is the most liberating experience to ever encounter.