I’m in Berlin and I think I am on a pilgrimage.
I know that sounds a little pretentious, but I think it fits.
Pilgrimage: A journey associated with someone or something well known or respected.
The reason I came to Berlin was the opportunity to explore the life, teachings, and influence of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’m here with my friend Rich Gantenbein and Mark Dodson. Mark has been a student of Bonhoeffer his entire adult life and he is the one who suggested and organized this trip.
I was introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer in college. Someone gave me a copy of his book, The Cost of Discipleship saying something like, “You should read this. It will blow your mind.” It did.
It also started me on a path to learn more about this German theologian, pastor, hero, and martyr. Bonhoeffer was one of the most outspoken critics of Hitler and the German Christian movement in the 30’s. He became a double agent and sought to undermine the Nazis, even supporting the attempt to assassinate Hitler. It was for this that he was executed in April 1945.
Beyond his impressive life, I was even more struck by the thinking that fueled such a life. How did he think about God and faith in ways that compelled him to act so courageously, where others were content to simply- and tragically, just go along? His writings have challenged and stretched me. They have formed me.
So, here I am in Berlin. At first, I called this a Study Leave and technically, that is true. But its more. As I was sitting on the plane, it occurred to me that I wasn’t coming just to learn more information. I am here to feed my soul and draw closer to someone who is still intriguing, challenging and forming me.
Pretentious or not, I think I am on a pilgrimage.