Frauenkirche Archives - St. Stephen's University

The Rock From Which I Was Cut

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

As I go about life at home, writing papers at the library and working at the plant nursery, as my family and old friends ask questions about my summer and my time in Europe, I am forced to look back. I weigh gelato flavours against one another to give my opinion on the best ones and quickly evaluate all the coffee I had so I can say which country had the best. As I look back it is easy to live in the past, to wish I’d spent more time doing this or that, to wish I could be sleeping on the ground in a tent with Lois instead of sweating, carrying trees and loading manure into people’s vehicles. It’s easy to wonder why writing papers and serving irate customers does not compare to strolling the streets of Europe soaking in the culture or eating a sandwich beside the Eiffel Tower.
There is a healthy way to look back and a destructive way to look back. Isaiah 51:1 says, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord…Look to the rock from which you were cut…Look to the quarry from which you were hewn.”
I think this verse offers two applications for myself specifically and perhaps others reading this…
1) Remembering Europe and the time we spent there, the people I spent it with, what I learned (academically and about myself) and using that knowledge to help shape my time here at home, to remember the way we did life in Europe and apply it here at home.
2) My experience in Europe was coloured by the theme of restoration (specifically the Frauenkirche) and as I think about the “stages” that I’m processing, the time has come to be at home with my parents and brother, to look back to the rock from which I was cut – to my parents, to my Heavenly Father–and to allow them to speak life into me; to allow God to define me.
I am on the path of restoration. Europe was the beginning of this journey and God is my companion.

He Restores My Soul

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

While in Dresden we visited the Frauenkirche, a church which was destroyed during World War II in the Dresden firebombing. The story of this church became intensely personal to me and has been colouring the trip for me.

The Frauenkirche was originally thought to have survived the bombing, however, two days afterward, the dome collapsed thereby reducing the church to stones and dust. It stayed this way until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The church was then reconstructed using the blueprints from the original church as well as sandstone from the same quarry the original sandstone was from. All the rubble was gone through to see what could be reused. Some of the stones were placed back where they had been originally, other stones were used to make up entire sections. The church was consecrated in 2005.

At the beginning of the trip Gregg Finley read to us Psalm 23. He emphasized verse three which reads, “He restores my soul”. In Jeremy Wiebe’s philosophy 300 class last semester we read an article on sexual violence, I don’t remember the author or the title of the article, but there was a particular sentence which stood out to me, I will paraphrase: “When our lives are shattered and lying in pieces we are given the opportunity to pick them up and choose what we want to keep and what we want to throw away”. Is it possible that the restoration of a church such as the Frauenkirche could speak not only of the restoration of  a building but also of individual human souls?

Last semester was very difficult for me, not academically, but personally. I spent most of the semester bitter and angry, broken hearted and lost; my life felt, and to some extent still feels like a pile of rubble. Just as the rubble of the Frauenkirche was gone through, some reused, some thrown away, so am I going through the pieces of my life, choosing what I want to keep and what I want to throw away. And just as the Frauenkirche was restored to its original beauty and brilliance in the Dresden skyline, so is God restoring my soul.

Everything is not lost

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments

Our experience visiting Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany, is difficult to put into words. The first thing I noticed was the immense amount of sadness throughout the camp. Even though many years have passed since it was in use fear and sadness still lingers within its walls. I walked around the camp for hours on what felt like blood and bones. Scattered across the grounds I found barracks, gas showers, and crematoriums, all these places made me question humanity and the evil we are capable of. I don’t understand how people can torture one another in such a way as to dehumanize them, or the hatred that one can feel towards a different religious group or race. All these questions left me feeling quite disturbed. What struck me the most was a video in the museum; it was an interview of a former prisoner who was retelling his experience of living in the concentration camp. Despite the cruelty he faced, and the vile living conditions he was subject to, this boy still found the ability to smile and even laugh. I was amazed at a human being’s ability to endure suffering and then eventually overcome such a horrendous event. Where does that kind of strength come from? These people were striped of everything that made them human, yet some were still able to find restoration. It makes me wonder where we find this kind of strength? Is it hope? Or God? Or both? I don’t know because I don’t think I will ever know what it felt like to be in their position. This idea of restoration seems to be a major theme on this trip. I have seen it quite literally in Rome while watching a Caravaggio piece being restored. I saw it again in Dresden, Germany at the Frauenkirche Church, which was burnt down in the fire bombings of WW2 and then rebuilt using some of the original bricks as a symbol of restoration to the people. The concept of restoration has continually been showing up in the conversations I have had with other students. Through seeing art and architecture restored and hearing other people’s stories of restoration I have realized one can find great strength and even hope in overcoming their own experiences. Nothing can compare to what the Jews endured, but I feel blessed to have seen evidence of restoration in my own life, my friend’s lives, and all over Europe.