Wednesday, November 18

Schonaich Cemetery

After dropping McKay at German kindergarten, I just had to take a walk to enjoy the sunshine and warmer temps before winter really sets in. I went looking for this old neighborhood in our town that's really cute and apparently has a fun summer festival which we missed this year.

But as I got closer, I'd catch glimpses here and there of the steeple of this church. Turns out this Lutheran church, the Evangelische Kirchengemeinde built in 1840, was across the street with a beautiful cemetery behind it. There's a golden rooster atop the spire.

I find cemeteries fascinating so I was eager to take a look around. Well more accurately, I find cemeteries interesting only during the day since I'm scared of the dark. On my walk home I ran into another mother from the kindergarten who'd confirmed what I'd heard about grave plots in Germany. The individual or family rents plots for a period of time, like 25 or more years. When the rental period is done, someone else can rent the plot and bury their dead there. She said that by that time most of the body is gone. I'm not going to think hard about this right now. What I didn't have time to ask about is that it seems they don't use coffins when being buried then, right? Guess I've got some research to do! The church keeps the records of who is buried where and all their information apparently.

This all piqued my interest because Ryan's mother is half German through her mother. Ryan's grandmother was from a small town north of Munich and met Ryan's grandfather here in Germany when he was doing his University studies. We plan to visit that town and cemetery when my mother-in-law visits.

As a child, I remember a couple cemetery visits our family made to search for headstones of our family. Since my dad is a convert to the church and my mom is a second generation member, there is a lot of family history research to be done! Mom's been digging in like her dad has done and really enjoys it. I've always had a desire to do family history research and know more about where my family comes from and what their lives were like. But Ryan's German roots, his brother moving here, and the close proximity to those roots are just too big a coincidence to ignore.

So we've established my curiosity, eh? As I walked this quiet cemetery, there were always a handful of older people placing items or sprucing up a plot they knew. These plots are immaculate and well cared for by family members, I was very impressed! I think there must have been a recent religious holiday observing the dead because of how fresh most of the decor was. Some of the patrons would look up and smile at me with a "Guten Morgen" and then stop to dote on my Morgan. Then I got a chance to practice my meager introductions.

Thanks to my camera's zoom, I could catch this discreetly. These two women chatted and visited a few different plots and apparently had a lot to say about them. The lady on the right always had her handbag perfectly perched on her arm while her friend was more animated, placed a wreath or took old candels from the plots.

One fresh site caught my eye because she passed away on Morgan's first birthday and her name is of Harry Potter fame. Hedwig Jankel January 3, 1924 - October 15, 2009. Hedwig was apparently popular as a name in the Middle Ages and means war and battle. Hmmmm. . .

I enjoyed looking at the two war memorials in this cemetery. The bigger one is for the first World War while the other one is for wars between 1786-1945. I translated what they have inscribed, but so much is lost in translation although I think I generally got the idea. They both honor those who died, were missing, or were kidnapped. What I found interesting about the third picture here is that the monument refers to the extermination camps on the left and those wandering in uncertainty on the right.

A mother with infant, the Savior, and the fallen soldier. I just loved how these images were portrayed and honored sacrifice.

So what do you want your headstone to look like? Just the facts? A favorite quote, a loving tribute, your image, a hobby? I think this guy loved to motorcycle! Another had an airplane.

Here's the oldest family plot I saw . . .

And now some smaller plots . . . see the woman in the background working on her husband's plot? He passed away in 2005.

These watering cans and spigots below were in various places throughout the cemetery.

It was almost 10am when I finished strolling through the cemetery and the bells were chiming with people heading into the church! I was excited to step in and take a look inside while enjoying the music and service as long as Morgan would allow. The inside was simple and interesting. I'd have to brush up on my art history to tell you want style the murals were in and I didn't feel it appropriate to take pictures at the beginning of their service. The flute and piano ensemble was very nice!

Then a woman scurried in and beckoned that I follow her kindly, but impatiently. I followed her next door where she ushered me into a sparse conference style room where she turned on a television so I could watch and listen to the service live! I wanted to laugh, but just said, "Dankeschoen!" She scurried back to the service and I saw her take her place up in front behind the musicians.

I was curious about the books they used, specifically the Bible. Here's the one they use, published here in Stuttgart in 1987.

The books of the Old Testament. Since we use the King James version, it was cool to see how they organize it here.

Then the Apocrypha and books of the New Testament.

Genesis 1

Fun times today! If my camera weren't dead, I'd also bombard you with pictures of the boys with the sheep recently brought to pasture in the fields below us. They liked the lone black sheep and the lone "white" sheep with a black face and legs. For another time. You're relieved, I know!