Last Sunday was one of the best days of my trip to Germany. First I attended worship at the Peters Kirche, the oldest church in Heidelberg. It is now the University Church and professors from the theology faculty teach there. One of my students was in attendance. I sat with Jennifer, my co-teacher who had provided an English translation of the sermon and parts of the service. There was an international group of theology students in attendance. The service was a familiar Lutheran service, but most of the hymns were new to me. The texts were beautiful. One by Paul Gerhardt. We all stood in a circle in the choir behind the altar to receive the body and blood. On the wall were memorials for some of the most prominent people who had studied and worshiped in Heidelberg. I felt the communion of the saints.
Then Professor Stievemann took me to his home for lunch with his family. He lives in a village called Dilsberg on one of the mountains overlooking the Neckar River. I am a little envious of his house in the woods. His study was formerly a workshop for a potter and is a perfect place for a scholar to work. His wife and two children were simply charming. His son is reading Harry Potter, and I used the little German I have to talk to him about that. They have a big black dog named Tom who reminds me of Sirius Black. The food was very good. I realized how much I’ve been missing home life when I was allowed to share some of their domestic happiness. Jennifer joined us with Jacob who was younger than Theodor, but before long they and other boys were romping through the gardens and woods. It brought me back to my childhood when the boys of the neighborhood roamed freely in and out of each other’s houses.
Then Professor Stievemann took us on a tour of the village itself, which is a walled medieval town on top of a hill. It was remarkably hot, and Mrs. Stievemann made sure that I had a hat. She does almost the same work for the university that my wife does. The village is lovely and has many layers of history. During the Thirty Years War, General Tilly captured Heidelberg, but he could not capture Dilsberg. The ruins of the old citadel with its battlement are still there, and we climbed to the top of the wall. It provides a commanding view of the river and the valley. Then we followed a tunnel through the side of the mountain into the deep well. It was fascinating to look up to the light shining above and down to the water below. Mark Twain visited this very spot during his travels in Europe, but he was not very kind to the Dilsbergers. I’m now wondering if it was Twain who inspired my boyhood fascination with Heidelberg.
We returned about 5 p.m. tired from the walking, the sun, and the energy of several boys. I was very contented and Skyped the people I love back in Pennsylvania. Sunday was a good day.
Monday was less so, but there is not much to report. I found a laundry, but they will take 3 days to clean my clothes, so I have almost nothing to wear. I decided to explore outside the old city a bit. I knew someone years ago who had lived in Eppelheim, so I took the tram there. Wasted trip, but I guess it was good to see what the suburbs look like. And I read and worked on plans for later in the month. Today rain is predicted, so my planned hike will be postponed. Today I will work on Zinzendorf!