September 18, 2008

Student Post: Maig Tinnin

I can’t believe it’s only my sixth day in Germany, it seems like forever ago that I got on the plane at PDX.
Amberg is the perfect town; I really can’t imagine being in a town that is more comfortable, accessible, beautiful, or relaxing. Old town is beautiful and some of the buildings date back to the 1400’s. There are tons of little shops and cafes, most who have set out sale items or small tables on the cobblestone streets. In the middle of town is the square- it’s basically the hub of the city but so relaxing and peaceful. Once a week vendors come in and have a flea market, in the mornings there are organic produce vendors, and there is an outdoor café where we can do homework and enjoy a delicious cappuccino. The square is made up of one side of St. Martin’s cathedral, the courthouse, and then shop buildings. In the corner of the square is the wedding fountain . . . it is all so beautifully lit in the evenings but also beautiful in the mornings when the fog is lifting. AmBEx has purchased a bike for each student to use while we’re here. Each bike has a little basket and a bell . . . basically like a scene from Sound of Music (only they have better singing voices and clothes made from curtains). It’s so nice because our school and apartment is only a 15 – 20 min bike ride to the square or anywhere else we would possible want to go.
Touring all of the ornate churches is really incredible but at the same time unsettling. This morning I rode down to the square with Kristina and Tyler. The first few moments in St. Martin’s made me think of heaven and left me in absolute awe. Then I noticed two nuns walking down the left side of the church, they knelt and prayed for a moment and then began lighting a candle. Apparently these candles are purchased by church members and then lit to save souls from purgatory. It is beautiful and inspiring the way these women have chosen to dedicate their lives to God, giving up so much to live a simple life. On the other hand it is hard to appreciate their candle lighting ceremony as it replaces the sacrifice and grace of God with the material works of man. It’s not possible to stand in one of these churches and not pray, to not be completely convicted about my own relationship with God. It may seem a little odd to kneel on a prayer bench in a German catholic church next to a pair of 80 year old nuns, but clearly God has a sense of humor.

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