Saturday, July 23, 2016

Reflections on Munich

(I wrote this as a long Facebook status this morning, and it has received so much positive feedback, I am posting it here as well)

The Munich shootings are really affecting me. I have been moved and saddened by all the violence the world has experienced, and felt connected to the tragedies in various ways, most powerfully to the shootings at Pulse in Orlando, which left me numb and in emotional shock, even while I ministered to others in shock. 

Munich is different, because it is bringing up memories of a very different time in my life, a period that I don't often think about, although it was very good in many ways. 

I lived in Munich for five years as a US military family member. It was a small installation and many Munchners weren't even aware we were there. My then-husband, our son, and I had many friends outside the military community--German nationals as well as ex-pats--so we were blessed with opportunities to get to know the city as a lot of Americans never did. A gala for the Bavarian State Opera at the Olympia Park (a friend played violin in the orchestra); the best place for mussels, tucked away by the English Garden; sailing on the Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg)... Munich is a city of my heart--if I had a way to live there forever, I would. 

We didn't shop at OEZ; it actually was on the opposite side of the city to where we lived, in the south-east side of Munich. But a friend lived near the Olympic Park, and so we probably dropped in, once or twice, I think. It's hard to remember, after 20+ years. 

But what I do remember is the warmth, the friendliness, of the Munchners. My German was never great--but they appreciated that I tried, and they loved that what I had learned and used was the Bavarian dialect (which made my High German-speaking teacher from Frankfurt shake his head in despair)! The laughter, the willingness to help this silly Amerikanerin (American woman), who at least had the wit to appreciate good German baking/clothing/music/produce/sport.... 

And then yesterday, to think of them hiding in storage rooms, finding refuge in cafes, in mosques, terrified in the confusion, people shot down at one of the city's landmarks.... It feels so incongruous, so wrong.

What is most tragic is that Munich is not alone in this. Munich is not unique. It feels that way to me, because it holds such a special place in my heart. But Paris holds a special place in other people's hearts; and Istanbul; and Mumbai; and Dallas; and San Bernardino--and Orlando. And so many more. 

I don't have any answers. I don't have any way to tie this off neatly and easily. 

Everywhere in the world is precious ground, and nowhere in the world should be a killing ground.

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

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