By Emilie Bouvier
Yesterday evening in the waning heat of the day, I pulled through bundles of now-finally-clean-laundry to set aside assembled outfits. I quickly dug out my international outlet converter I haven’t used in five years, a couple books for the plane, my hiking boots from the back of the closet, and then stopped. I suddenly noticed how little was in my piles. I had only packed the basics.
Yet my deeper curiosity is about the stirring unrest in Luther’s day.
I’ll confess, I haven’t been preparing well for this Reformation 500 trip to Germany next week. I know the deep significance of this opportunity to be present in such historic, sacred places at such a pivotal moment in time – but it didn’t feel real until now.
I’m packing light because I don’t know what to expect. (What was the weather going to be like?) Rather than meticulously preparing (as I know I have a propensity to do), I’m stepping lightly into the holy moments that I know I can’t fully anticipate.
ADMITTEDLY, MY THOUGHTS have been scattered and filled with big wonderings this week. I don’t know if it’s the national debate on healthcare under a Trump administration, the upcoming rally in Nebraska reminding me that the Keystone fight is not over, or the painful layers of the Justine Damond shooting. Likely it’s a combination of all those things that feel so heavy, causing me to reflect a great deal this week on this current moment we’re living in – a time characterized by fractures and emerging social movements.
And now I’m stepping away from this week to get on a plane to Germany. My biggest wondering setting foot on this pilgrimage through history and tradition concerns the questions we face as a church today: ever-reformed, ever-reforming. Where do we stand in movements of change, in moments of rupture around the powers that take life instead of give it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely curious to learn more of the stories surrounding Luther’s life, see his childhood home, appreciate the music and art that marked the start of Lutheranism. Yet my deeper curiosity is about the stirring unrest in Luther’s day. I want to know more about how he navigated the pain of dissonance and failure in the harmful systems that needed to change but didn’t come apart without loss.
I want to place myself more inside an understanding of the social fabric of Luther’s day. I want to better see the structural harm embedded in the institutions of that age and how the faithful sought to find a new way.
I want to know more about how Luther navigated the pain of dissonance and failure in the harmful systems that needed to change but didn’t come apart without loss.
So I’ll toss in a notebook on top of the packing pile, and hop on the plane in t-minus 48 hours. I know many church folks are making this trek this year, and many have already. I’ve loved perusing the blog posts from the young clergy in our synod and learning from their experiences earlier this summer. (See https://reformingforward.wordpress.com/).
The reflections we share and questions we raise together – both in our time at home and time away – are so important. May these voyages we take, whether afar or within our own communities, Reformation-year related or otherwise, stir new wonderings, inform us, and reconnect us.