Graveyards are a strange place. They’re peaceful, but also sometimes creepy. Case in point, these photos I have here. These are photos from the Alter Friedhof in Freiburg im Breisgau, where I spent a year living. The featured image above is the stone in a mausoleum that says: Weinet nicht meine Lieben. Ich bin glücklich. In English: “Cry not my beloved, I am happy”. Which is kind of a darling sentiment…I mean, maybe the person was suffering a long illness that death was a relief from? Or perhaps they were just miserable in life, and death brought them freedom. That’s nothing to frown at; it would be a good thing.
I was just thinking about how where I grew up and have lived for most of my life is a huge impact and influence on how I see things…and how I go about practice. See, I’m very lucky to grow up in Washington state. I love it here. There’s so many different things, different environments. We’ve got forests, desert, farmland, coast, sweeping mountains, rivers, lakes, sounds and oceans, rainforest…everything you can think of. And it’s all within a maximal 5 hour drive. Not to mention one of the most beautiful mountain-views anywhere (my opinion): Mt. Rainier. That’s my favorite thing. Living in western Washington, it’s great when on clear days we can see the mountain. And sometimes it’s just so impressive looking, because it…
Ich habe in Freiburg für ein Jahr (vom September bis zum Juli) gewohnt. Meine WG war neben der Dreisam in Littenweiler. In Freiburg habe ich mein Leben gefunden. (Vielleicht ein bisschen dramatisch, aber es stimmt) Für das erstes Mal in meinem Leben war ich allein und muss allein alles machen und tun. Natürlich war es schwierig für meine Familie mir zu unterstützen, wenn sie mehr als 8300 Kilometer (5100 Milen) weit weg sind. Sie schickt mir Geschenke und hilft mir mit ein paar Rechnungen, aber am meistens war ich allein und ohne Hilfe.
When I was in Germany, I got to see Pope Benedict XVI in person. I got to hear him speak to a large crowd of Freiburg Catholics…and those who came from the surrounding areas. For Freiburg im Breisgau (the city I was living in), it was a huge deal to have German Pope visiting their city. I went to hear him speak, to listen to him address the people. It was an amazing atmosphere, with all the people there, a teeming throng of people from all over Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and beyond. It was a unique experience that I don’t think I’ll ever get to experience again. I got to be less than 100 yards from a sitting pope and hear him speak…
The translation is not exact, but it’s got the spirit of the meaning in German. “Lebe jeden Tag als wäre es dein letzter!” “Live every day as if it were your last.” I took this photo 23 July 2012 on a walk along the Dreisam River out in the Littenweiler neighborhood in Freiburg im Breisgau. It was something that stuck out to me, and I was just really drawn to take the photo and keep the quote with me. It’s something I’d like to keep in mind, personally, because I tend to be overly cautious at times. It’s a rather pretty picture as well, reminds me of the great summer weather that Freiburg had that day.∗
„Hoch auf dem gelben Wagen
Sitz’ ich bei’m Schwager vorn.
Vorwärts die Rosse jagen,
Lustig schmettert das Horn.
Felder und Wiesen und Auen,
Wogendes Aehrengold. –
Möchte wohl gerne noch schauen
Aber der Wagen rollt.“
And really strange they are. I’m returning to the States early tomorrow morning. It’s going to be insane really, with my luggage. My room is nearly bare, just my bed-stuff will be put out in the morning, because I kind of need to sleep on the bed still. It’s freakishly sterile looking, after my photos, posters, statues and trinkets have adorned the shelves all year. And I dunno…it’s weird to be going home. I’m panicking already.