Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany.
“No eye has seen No ear has heard, nor entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
If you would have told me one year ago I would return to this cute city tucked away within an ancient stone wall that is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I would have laughed it off as an impossibility. OH CONTRAR.
July 2013…….July 2014
Once again I found myself walking through the stone archways dating hundreds of years before my existence. Once again I find myself skipping down cobblestone streets lined with uniquely crafted, brightly painted homes and shops, bakeries and boutiques. And once again I found myself thoroughly lost in a Christmas wonderland in the middle of summer. Yes, there is one street completely dedicated to Christmas.
Four stories of hand-crafted, wooden and glass ornaments, beautiful snow globes, Christmas dishes and place mats ready for a feast, rotating Christmas trees, singing teddy bears, garland sewn into the ceiling with tinsel that shimmer in the thousands of lights strung throughout the store ignited the holiday spirit! I was ready to sip eggnog and sing O’ Christmas Tree!
Not only is there a Christmas street, there is a Teddyland here in Rothenburg. There has long been a debate about where the first teddy bear originated. To we Americans, we know this classic, cuddly design as an imitation of Theodore Roosevelt and the furry friend he didn’t have the heart to shoot while on a hunting trip; thus a cartoonist drew our president alongside a friendly-looking bear. Meanwhile, in Germany, a toy maker was wracking his brain to come up with a new toy idea. He attended a circus in town, I think it’s only fair to mention this was an American circus, and found his inspiration from the bears dressed in friendly, humanizing articles of clothing. Regardless of where the first Teddy came to life, I would beg to differ the home of the Teddy Bear is nestled in a bear cave in the center of Rothenburg. There are life-sized, animated, cuddly, snuggly, key chain, collectible, dancing, singing, snoring bears-you name it they have it.
This place once again felt like a German fairytale. Adding to the magic, there was a live orchestra playing from the town square. The instruments’ perfect harmonies bounced off the painted buildings and gathered quite a crowd. “Where am I? If this world only exists in my dreams, don’t wake me up!” I thought to myself. We decided to grab a seat, order some warm coffee, to balance out the cold drizzly weather, a Rothenburg dough ball and enjoy the scenic moment.
After a wine and dine, we found a cafe that was advertising they had the World Cup semi-finals on. GO DEUTSCHLAND! We rolled in a little wet but full of energy and charisma. The cafe owner was slightly taken aback by our enthusiasm but showed us the outdoor covered garden-patio where he had installed a large projector screen. We sat on sofas and bundled up with warm fur blankets. The cafe owner crowned us with yellow, red and black leis and offered a warm beverage. After attempting to describe what I thought was a common beverage, a mocha latte, I was led to the cafe kitchen to teach him the secrets of this American trade…and “voila”, there you have it. Good thing I spend entirely too much time and money in Norman coffee shops. I knew that would pay off sooner or later; now I have my name on the menu next to the cafes latest and greatest hot beverage. We met the other gathered locals, shared pretzels and cheered on our dominating team! It was a late night but a memorable one none the less.
Unfortunately the European cold and rainy weather I had been warned about and somehow avoided, caught up to us the next day. It was quite miserable, so it was back to the cafe for a mocha latte, a warm blanket and a front row seat to the rain shower. It was actually quite relaxing. The cafe owner came out to check on me and noticed I was sniffly due to being allergy stricken the past week. The kind, sincere heart of this German man in his late 50’s brought me a hot tea sprinkled with fresh mint leaves. He cupped his gentle hands around the rim and told me to inhale deeply. I obeyed. He then pressed his fingers across my sinuses and I took a full, deep breath of rain-scented air. Surprisingly, having this strange man massage my face was not creepy at all. His sincerity was inevitable and at that moment in time, he became Jesus to this girl a long way from home.
“You never know where You will find me, or what form I will take, but seek me and you will see I’m always close by,“ the Lord whispered in my heart. Today I found him in the sincerity of a stranger, yet again a love that transcended a language barrier. I wanted to return the favor, so the next morning I slipped a note of blessing under the cafe doors to be discovered by my mocha-making, kind friend. The spirit nudged me again, “You never know when you may be My mirror to someone else,” He reminded. Today I scribed my personal definition of Love. A four letter word that gets tossed around carelessly but when said with all integrity might be the most powerfully arranged letters that escape the lips. To love, to be loved and to know you are loved.
Love defined: Love has no boundaries, it has no limitations. It is scary and yet freeing. It will cause you to do crazy things, even things that scare you, but the scarier thought is being without it. Love is surrender and sacrifice of will. Love isn’t safe, it’s risky, but true love satisfies. It’s a game changer, a commitment maker and a life saver. The best moments of this journey have been those which come right after a moment (or days) of brokeness because it’s then I see the love of the Lord in a tangible way. -my journal
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39