by Christine Sine
Tom and I are now in Prague, after a wonderful river cruise up the Rhine and down the Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest. This has been an amazing blessing for us as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. As the program director on board our ship said – our cruise could have been featured on the brochures. The weather was almost perfect the whole way and we are leaving with many incredible impressions and new friends.
So many have provided hospitality for us along the way, but as I reflect on our experiences I am currently most aware of those who have gone before us and made possible all that we are doing. They too are our hosts as we travel and we are guests of their welcoming presence. We so rarely recognize them and yet their lives and sacrifices have given all of us the luxuries that we so take for granted – luxuries of clean waterways, electricity, toilets, running water, good and abundant food.
I think of the Celtic monks whom we first met in Iona off the west coast of Scotland. In Würzburg, Germany we met them again as we encountered Kilian and his companions Kolonat and Totnan who evangelized this part of central Europe, possibly having travelled from Iona. They were martyred around 689 but their lives still impact this part of the world. The day after our visit was St Kilian’s feast day, still celebrated in Würzburg with joy. For many Germans, Kilian is a family name, including our good friend Hans Greulich whom we were able to get together with in Passau. His grandfather is called Kilian.
As we passed, and then visited some of the castles along the river I thought too of those who endured much hardship throughout the centuries to give us the freedoms we have today. They cultivated crops in harsh environments, they endured epidemics and fought their foes. They lived in ways that we would never endure today. I thought too of those who lost their lives in wars. So many of the towns we stopped at were 90% destroyed during WW II. Reduced to piles of rubble like we are seeing now in Mosul. Amazingly, many of them have been rebuilt not in modern style but as they were before.
I think too of those who designed the magnificent buildings we visited, crafted the mighty organ we listened to in Passau Germany and composed the music we relished in Vienna Austria. Their creativity is a gift of hospitality to us.
I remember too my parents whose frugality provided us with the resources that we have been able to spend on this trip. They too are our hosts. I have particularly felt my mother’s welcoming presence beside me as we travelled. I am her guest here on this trip just as much as I was when I stayed in her house in Australia.
What is your response?
We are blessed people who rarely stop to acknowledge our blessings. Take some time to stop and reflect today on those who have gone before you, gifting you through their labours with life, and freedom and comfort. If possible get out photos of people and places you want to thank God for.
- Remember your parents and your ancestors and the struggles they went through to make your comfortable lifestyle possible. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for them.
- Remember those who pioneered your country or the area in which you live. Thank them for their sacrifices and the ways their lives have provided hospitality for you. Offer a prayer of thanks to God.
- Remember those who sacrificed their lives in wars to give you freedom. Thank them for the gift of life which you enjoy because of their sacrifice.