Chapter 8 Written / Published 19.10./22.10.15 Pics by author, unless indicated
On the second day of writing this chapter (on 20.10) I suffered, as seldom before, from writer's block. I just could not decide where to start, what to include etc. All I managed until then were mostly the photos, one of which included the word 'Zukunft' (Future in English). The next day, after much prayer, the word future made perfect sense, much better than a day earlier.
We travel in the greater Stuttgart region of Southern Germany, revisit places and meet old friends. We also take part in a peaceful protest rally, demonstrating that He remains HE.
At the end we shall briefly meet a very successful sportsman with a very distinguished name. Also a mother and her teenage son. Names are a real match.
8. Back to the future - He
What a contrast in the weather! When boarding the train in Thun, Switzerland, the distant mountains above Lake Thun shimmered in a bright haze on this warm summer day in early June 2015. This made it even harder to have to say good-bye to this pretty place, knowing that I had just enjoyed one of the happiest weeks of my life.
Arriving in the Black Forest four hours later, low clouds hung over the woods. The temperature had dropped to a level, which in Adelaide we experience only in winter. Still, for another 36 hours I enjoyed the friendship and excellent hospitality of my friend JK and his lovely wife. The next evening, during a house meeting, I again met their Christian friends, some of whom I got to know twenty years earlier. How wonderful to feel welcome, to belong to one large family.
What a contrast in the welcome I received two days later! As I walked into my brother's apartment he first informed me that he only managed to organise a fold-up bed and a blanket for me, but no pillow. A soft pillow was in the two-hard basket. The problem was solved when kind neighbours, a couple who gave practical support to my bachelor brother, came to the rescue. Now I had somewhere to lay my head.
The idea of staying with my brother for two weeks, while he was recovering from his cancer treatment, was good in theory. In practice it did not work out. His one bedroom apartment was too small. He was not used to visitors and only left the house to go shopping.
After five days I sensed his distress. Little things started to irritate him. When he told me that he smoked more since I had arrived, it made me feel bad. I knew it was time to make an early departure. Thankfully, there were some friends, Hans-Martin, Erich and Willy, who I could rely on to provide a bed until my planned departure for London later that month.
The date I had arrived back in Esslingen was June 9th, 2015. That evening our Class of 1966 has arranged a reunion in a pub in Neuhausen, in the hills above Esslingen. Since my brother was not trusting me with his motor car, I had to cycle to the place, about ten kilometers away.
En route a sign read - no bicycles beyond this point. I was already running late and had no idea how else I could reach the other side of the deep valley. Over the bridge I went, sorry, illegally.
It had been three years since I last saw my comrades. We retold the same stories as we did three years earlier; history is history. It was a pleasant evening; great food and definitely no alcohol. No matter how gemuetlich the gathering, I have learned to not give in to beer pressure!
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Prettiest town in Southern Germany - Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
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Three years before this 2015 trip I had also visited Germany. Readers may recall, how I had been in need of accommodation after a mix-up. A Christian brother, Hans-Martin, whom I had only just met in church, was the answer to my prayer. He let me have his small apartment studio, without any fuss, while he went on holiday.
That's why I asked him again, if I could stay for a short time, since living with my brother had not worked very well.
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While we're on No. I, a story surrounding this all important digit comes to mind. Walking around Stuttgart's main shopping mall, very aptly named Koenig Strasse (King Street), a huge number 1 caught my eye on the side of a glass wall.
DIE ZUKUNFT IST EINS (The future is one)
Another number ONE had hit my radar only a few minutes earlier, as I was riding my bike through the suburbs, west of Stuttgart. One major intersection I paused should be called the Porsche Corner. It was surrounded on three sides by buildings of the Porsche company, one of them being the Porsche Museum. I paused to take a rare selfie:
Reflection into Porsche Museum: FASZINATION PORSCHE
At the very end there is >>> HE NOI.
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You don't need to understand the German language to be fascinated by what comes next - the word HE during a demonstration on 21.6.2015 in the capital of Baden Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart.
The theme of the public rally on the Schillerplatz was Demo fuer Alle (Demo for All). Organisers had only expected 2000 participants that Sunday afternoon, but 4603 (there was a head count) turned up. The main protest was aimed at a controversial educational program called Ehe fuer Alle - marriage for all. (Note the word EHE!)
Let's travel four months back from the present, to October 20th 15, the day of writing this part of the chapter. I was reading my Boundless Bible study that morning. It so happened it was Chapter 1 of HE (Hebrews; I was a few days behind). Verses 11 and 12 in that chapter affirm an important truth about GOD - HE remains HE.
"They will perish, but You remain...." (Heb. 1, 11).
"They will be changed, but You remain..." (Heb. 1, 12).
The word remain, translated into German, means - bleibt. Now take a look at the picture I took at that rally for traditional marriage:
Ehe bleibt Ehe - just as HE remains HE.
Unlike the rally in Adelaide, written about in Chapter 6, Stuttgart saw a huge contingent of police. Possible anti-demonstrators were expected to make trouble. Thankfully, there were no incidences of concern. The only disruption came, when the opposition attempted to shout down or drown out the speakers, which they failed to do.
After about an hour at the Schillerplatz the crowd marched to the Stuttgart Opera House, where demonstrators gathered again briefly, before dispersing.
Leading up to my departure for England, I was able to stay for eight days with another friend, Eric, in another suburb of Stuttgart. It was a time to relax, enjoying and exploring the surrounding villages and blossoming countryside on my Giant. The weather had turned cool. At times it was wet. There was much time to exchange thoughts with Eric and reminisce about the good old days, even as far back as 55 years, when we first met at boy scouts.
On Sunday June 21st we went to church in Zuffenhausen, the headquarters of the church that I had attended before migrating to Australia. We sat with men of our age, men I knew from the youth group four decades earlier. It felt good to be part of that group again, even just for this short time.
While Eric was talking to our friends in the church foyer, I had a look at the display of books on offer. A name on one of the covers rang a bell - Gottlob Ling. Not only did this author / preacher have a nice name, I recalled hearing him preach many times in our church.
I felt prompted to take a photo of his book, for no particular reason. Looking back, maybe I was meant to do it, just for this writing?
Both words mean the same thing. Zeit can be used to express era. Hebrews Chapter 1, Verse 1 - the same Boundless reading as we had earlier, is a good example of this:
(Translated from Hoffnung fuer Alle). Verse 2 continues:
God still speaks through HIS son in these troubling times of 2015.
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Had not the letters HE played such a big role in this chapter, unplanned of course, I may not have bothered writing about the following incident. However, since it involves a name, starting with He... He... why not tell it here?
Before leaving Australia I learned that a close member of my family is a fan of the German poet Herman Hesse. I knew that this famous writer went to school in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. A plague outside a college shows his name:
Famous pupil of this Cannstatt college: Herman Hesse (1877 - 1962).
Riding my bike through a Stuttgart suburb, for whatever reason it was, at a particular moment the name Herman Hesse came to mind. I may have been considering, if I would find the above plague outside that college, which I had seen three years earlier? (At the time I was staying at 71 Einsteinstrasse, corner Hesser Weg. Bk.11, Ch.11).
About two seconds after thinking of the name Hermann my eyes spotted a parked van on the side of the road. In large letters the company name Herrmann showed. I took this photo:
Herrmann - Payerstrasse 7 - Stuttgart 70 184
(Time travel to October 2015 - Melbourne)
I find it remarkable how a number, or numbers, linger on after they had appeared in my writing. In the previous chapter it was number 13 and 130. During a short trip to Melbourne in October 15 (Hey, there are the digits of my birthday again!) they came up again totally unexpected.
We had been looking for accommodation in the coastal town of Queenscliff, on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula. The tourist office recommended an 1860's cottage, which from the outside did not look much at all. Once we looked inside, it was a different story.
Only the next morning did I realize three things about our one night stay:
During the same weekend in Melbourne, we were trying to find a parking spot as close to Southbank as possible. We could have chosen a two-hour space on St.Kilda Road. But at the last moment I continued on, hoping to get closer to the city centre. I turned left and saw not far away a vacant space, right outside the Melbourne HQ of our ABC.
At $ 5.50 an hour parking was not cheap. Returning to our spot, after a super quick walk along Southbank and Federation Square, I noticed the vehicle behind us carried registration plate Y... 131.
The car in front of us was a Nissan Leaf. It's parking meter had expired. I felt sorry for the person and inserted another 50 cents into the slot.
Getting back into my Suzuki I nearly missed it - the number of our parking bay, painted on the roadway:
There were those digits again - 10035S.
On the day of writing - the date the future was happening ( 21.10.15) a famous footballer CJ came to Adelaide to promote his autobiography he had written. I had heard on radio, the JC show, that the star would appear in an Adelaide bookshop to sing his book...? Sorry, to sign his book. It was a chance for a break from writing, so I dashed into town by car and bike to take a look.
As expected the bookshop in Rundle Mall was busy. The queue of AFL (Australian Football League) fans seem to re ac h for 7 miles (not really). While in the queue I chatted with a Greek lady, whose teenage son was wearing a Carlton jacket. The sports star / author was a former captain of the Carlton Football Club:
CHRIS JUDD - Inside - The Autobiography
The Greek lady in the queue, short in stature and dressed in black, was full of information about C J. Besides one of the best footballers in the country, he is a rather down to earth person. The successes of his career, he won every conceivable award, had not gone to his head. What a role model for young Australians like her son, who accompanied his mother that day.
She never told me her name. But I recall her introducing me to her son, who had an interesting name, not uncommon in the Greek community - Christos. It only sank in on the way home: At the signing of Chris' book I had met Christos and his mother.
I let the reader's imagination go wild, thinking up what might have been Christos mother's name, and to decode the letters tos.
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This was meant to be the end of this chapter. Late that evening (October 21) however, I picked up my Daily Bread Bible reading booklet. In an instant I knew I'd be adding to the chapter. The booklet was open to October 20th 2015 where one word in the heading hit my eye. Take a look inside:
Daily Bread October 20 - An Inside View
But my reading that evening was for October 21. Take a look and marvel, as I do after such amazing discoveries, how it all fits together:
Daily Bread October 21 - Pride at the Core
Very early, on the day of uploading this chapter, I woke with this thought: The purchase of Chris Judd's autobiography was the second such book in a short time. Exactly five days before, on Saturday 17th October, I had met another celebrity, who had written his autobiography; different sport, different country, different era. I also bought his book and had it signed.
Looking at the back page of this gentleman's publication, I saw not a number, but two letters, a short word. It was not the word he, but me.
God willing, his story in the next chapter.