It was a couple of months ago that I first heard about John Morton’s planned trip to Strasbourg. Initially, I wondered why he had chosen Strasbourg rather than London, Paris, Berlin or another European capital. I was intrigued, and asked Robert whether he’d like to come with me to be with our Traveler. He agreed, and we made our preparations.
As the time grew nearer, and the plans became more detailed, it became clear why Strasbourg had been chosen. It’s a French city on the banks of the Rhine, only a few miles from the German border. It has a rich and tumultuous history and culture, having changed hands multiple times, belonging to France and Germany alternately. The most recent changes happened in the 20th century. As a result, I could imagine the benefit of placing Light columns in such a place, right in the heart of Europe.
I discovered that the trip was the brainchild of two ministers- Christine Garnon, from Strasbourg, and Arno Triebskorn, from Karlsruhe, in Germany. They live about one hour apart from each other and have regular ministers’ meetings together. They saw this trip as an opportunity for reconciliation, healing and blessing relations between the two countries which were arch-enemies for so many centuries. It is also less than two hours’ drive from Switzerland, and just a short flight from the UK.
Besides this, Strasbourg is in the heart of Europe in some very significant ways. The European Parliament is based here, along with the Council of Europe, and many other European institutions. At a time when there are political changes and challenges going on in the European Union, not least in relation, for example, to Brexit, and also immigration, and the question of our responsibility towards refugees from war-torn nations, it seemed like a good time to anchor the Light.
Robert and I joined the group for a visit to Strasbourg Cathedral, where we called in the Light, and gasped at the beauty of this incredible Gothic masterpiece. Many people spoke in particular of being tremendously moved by the Council of Europe and its ideals.
Christine gives us a little flavour here of another highlight:
The Place Gutenberg is the oldest ‘place’ (square) in the city. We walked through it on Sunday, July 23; it has a statue of a man holding the page of the Bible that reads, “And there was Light” (Genesis) because this German-born citizen invented the printing press in Strasbourg during the 10 years he lived here. John Morton was most interested to discover his own name on one of the bas-reliefs, where the Founding Fathers of America are gathered around the press, which was an invention of great benefit to them for the transmission of new ideas – which up until then, had to go through the censorship of the Church.
On Monday we were fortunate to attend a workshop on the Sound Current, gracefully and expertly led by Leigh Taylor-Young Morton, with generous input from John. In the afternoon John led a Q and A. One of the questions I remember John raising was why we were there. We were a gathering of ministers from France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK, with only a couple of people present actually from Strasbourg. I’m sure many people had answers of their own to ponder. For me, it became clear that it was about communing with my spiritual family in Europe, as an act of faith and of unity despite the changing political circumstances. I had set the intention several years ago of traveling through Europe in the steps of the Travelers, and since then have had many interesting and unexpected opportunities to do so. However, when I set the intention, I had not imagined actually following John through the streets of Strasbourg. What a blessing!
Yet again, I was moved to witness John and Leigh’s ministry, their loving, generosity and fortitude, and their willingness to walk their talk. It was also marvelous to be able to meet with individuals from other European MSIA communities (some very small and embryonic) and to experience their enthusiasm, energy, love, and devotion to this path in countries where it is not yet well-known or accepted. I would particularly like to acknowledge Christine and Arno for all their incredible hard work and dedication in putting together this trip and making it such a success. I can’t wait to meet with you all again!