Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Cut-Rate Grand Tour: Day Twenty-one

Monday, 26 December, 1988
St. Stephen’s Day

Löhenthal* to Hapsburg to Königsfelden to Zürich to Löhenthal

I’d intended to take off for Florence this morning but it didn’t seem time yet to go. And Lukas’s* parents suggested a trip along a scenic route in the process of returning Frau Heimdorfer* to Zürich.

So we visited the castle which is the actual first seat of the Hapsburg family (who were originally from Alsace-Lorraine, it turns out) and then a church where one of the later Hapsburgs was assassinated,† Königsfelden. It was closed and we couldn’t go in.

After dropping Granny off, Herr Renzberger* took us up to a restaurant overlooking Zürich for coffee and cake. Unfortunately yesterday was much nicer; today’s fog rather obscured the view, a fact Lukas’s mother continued to apologise for.

Thereafter we drove around the city of Zürich a bit, looking at their Christmas decorations.

Then we headed back to Löhenthal. A couple times Max* got a little spacy at the wheel and let the car drift over the righthand white line. "Achtung, Max!" says Greti*, and each time he insists he’s awake . . .

That's right, Herr Renzberger, keep the car on the road . . . I may have been getting more and more depressed today but it would not be a good day to die. Any way you look at it, I couldn’t and wouldn’t choose Lukas for my leading man in a tragic and romantic death scene, especially the way he was behaving. It’d be absurd.

On our return I got out my train schedule and began to figure out what’s happening in the next week and a half. I’ve decided to go back to Oxford the 6th. My train pass ends that day anyway.

They asked me when I was leaving and seemed surprised when I said tomorrow. But I think it’s a good idea. If I stay any longer I’m liable to allow myself to blow up at Lukas when he says or does (or doesn’t do) some little thing, just to try to get some interaction out of him.

I went to his room this morning and talked to him about his thesis paper on pastoral counselling. He didn’t invite me in and we conducted the conversation with me standing in the doorway. Still, happily, I got him to do the talking. But it felt more like an interview than a conversation.

And I discovered he’s not the person to ask when trying to find out how he knows he has a call to the ministry. That sort of thing apparently isn’t Done in the Reformed church. They seem more hyper-intellectual than a pile of bleeding Presbyterians.

Maybe I’ll ask Nigel*. It’s important, because I’m looking for that sort of certainty for myself.

Did something decadent after everyone went to bed. Pulled out one of Lukas’s English language books and read it through. A work of fiction, not all that well written, but still I needed something of the sort.

Yeah, I know that sounds strange. I don't mean I needed a badly-written book; what I needed what something in English that gave me something to think about besides Lukas's inexplicable behaviour and how uncomfortable it's making me.

It was an older book called In His Steps by a guy named Charles Sheldon. It starts out all right, with a pastor and some of his church members resolving to live their lives according to the maxim, "What would Jesus do?" But the author has everyone in the town eventually jumping on board and the whole town being gloriously transformed and the movement eventually spreading to Chicago and points beyond. Sure, it'd be nice, but is it real? I mean, even if some people could be consistent about keeping this up, is it really believable that there would be no hold-outs at all?

By the time I finished it, it was making me uncomfortable in its own way. If you can think of God as the Author of human history, it's almost like Sheldon is standing there confronting the Lord with his hands on his hips, saying, "Hey, God, I can make my characters be totally virtuous and godly-- why can't You?"

But as I say, it was a change.
†I've learned subsequently that the Habsburg in question wasn't actually murdered in the church building. King Albert I was killed on that particular spot in 1308, and the church was later erected over the site in his honor.


whiskers said...

I do so hate the feeling of someone being "quiet" at me. I have a friend who will occasionally go into a period of non-communicativeness, and it just makes me want to shake him to get him to converse. And then I feel so awkward, like I'm being a desperate pest, just to try to get him back to being friendly...


Sometimes it's such a horrid thing, that we can't choose who to love. I think sometimes that if I could, I would go back ten years, look at him when we first met, and say..."well, you're handsome and all, but I think I'd rather stay home and drink tea. Thanks, but no thanks." Unfortunately, there was no choice involved.


St. Blogwen said...

I love it! "I'd rather stay home and drink tea"! Indeed, indeed!

The difficult thing about Lukas* was that he never acted like this in college, only outside of it. I wonder what I would have done if I'd known at the time that his mother was trying to match us up?