We have a Spiritual Moment
Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
9Trip End Mar 21, 2010
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We were on the road by 7:30am today on a two-plus hour run to Dresden. We were reminded that Dresden was completely destroyed in 1945 by Allied fire-bombing, which was reportedly in retaliation for the German bombing of Coventry. Our objective in this city was the Lutheran Frauenkirche, or Church of our Lady.
This stunningly beautiful building, capped by a huge stone dome, was levelled in 1945 and lay as rubble on the ground throughout fifty-plus years of communist rule. With the reunification of Germany an international initiative was mounted to rebuild the church to its original design, using as much of the original materials as could be salvaged. The re-building took 13 years, being completed in 2005 and it stands today as a striking monument to peace
We were given a tour of the building by a kindly old church elder and then the Chorus assembled in front of the chancel to sing an informal concert.
This may have been the most emotionally moving moment of the entire tour. The sanctuary and chancel of this church are painted in soft, pastel blues, pinks and yellows. The altars and chancel are heavily adorned with gold-gilt and the organ soars a hundred feet or so, bathed in light streaming from the windows which bracket it. The dome, which covers the sanctuary, is over 300 feet high and features eight softly-coloured depictions of Christian lore. The overall effect is astonishing.
What was truly stirring, however, was the music of the Chorus. Singing acapella, the group performed Bruckner's Locus Iste and a piece by Chorus member Zachary Windus titled Wie Lieblich Sind Deine Wohnungen. For the first time we were able to hear the overtones that Director Richard had told us we would experience in a setting like this. The voices soared, were amplified and were complimented by the surroundings. When the choir rested, their voices would continue to gently tingle for what seemed like several seconds far above our heads
By way of anticlimax, we returned to the bus and headed for Prague, in the Czech Republic.
The transition from Germany to the Czech Republic was quite dramatic. We came roaring off the four and six lane Autobahn onto a two lane road that twisted and turned through hamlets and around roundabouts as it more or less followed the course of the Elbe River all the way to Prague. One could not help but be impressed by the industriousness of the Czech people, however. They may have lacked some infrastructure in this part of the country but signs of an aggressive and thriving economy were everywhere. I particularly enjoyed seeing all the Skoda automobiles on the roads. It was as if, cheek to jowl with some of Europe’s most successful automakers, the Czech people were saying "Thanks, but we’ll just stick with our own."
We checked in to the Hotel Bila Labut in central Prague. It claims to be a four star hotel; probably isn’t but it was adequate for our purpose.
That evening we boarded a river boat for a dinner cruise on the Vltava River. It was a hoot, complete with an oom-pah band and a decent buffet. Great fun.