In the Silence

Helena Voltmer
March 26, 2017

In the Silence


Song Stuck in My Head: Enchanted by Kings Kaleidoscope


Adjusted to jetlag? Check. Had my first German meal? Check. Saw Angela Merkel? Not yet…

I just hit the three-week mark of surviving Berlin, which according to IES Abroad is significant since the first two weeks is when the worst things happen.

Most of my time has been spent taking part in orientation activities, sitting in my intensive German course and exploring the city with people from my program. After being so busy everyday from 8am until 9pm in the evening, the past two weekends have been a great relief. Since this schedule is very different to the one I had at home, which was pretty much just work, eat and sleep, I’ve found little time for just rest.

Last Sunday I visited a church with a friend who lives in Berlin and the pastor spoke specifically about what rest should look like, using the phrase #seimalstill (#bequiet). In our western American culture it can be hard to find time to be still for a period of time and even harder to rationalize the “waste of time” by not doing something productive. The pastor, speaking to a group of Berliners, made the same points about the culture of the city and its inhabitants.

The pastor left us with the challenge of finding time each day to rest in silence with no distractions around us. Usually I like challenges but this one did not sound remotely exciting. Silence and being still, for me, is viewed as unproductive and as a waste of time since I always have something that I should be doing. However, I knew that I had to try this, especially since these past two weeks had been so overwhelming.

 To my surprise, being still every morning was not as difficult as I imagined it to be. Over dinner, I shared with my host mother, how rewarding being still was. She works part time as a meditation instructor, so she knew exactly what I was talking about. Since my host mother is wonderful and talkative, this launched into us talking about culture, comparing German and American as well as other cultures. She also shared with me tons of medial information about the benefits of meditation, which I don’t think really translated into English well in my brain.

Even though stillness is still something that does not come naturally to me, I am enjoying the benefits that come from the 5 minutes of rest. More importantly, I am enjoying the time I get to spend with Christ afterwards, reflecting, thanking and listening (even thought I have a hard time with that too haha).

While Berlin, as I’ve learned, is a massive and fast paced city, I hope that I will be able to find these moments of stillness, whether it be in my room, on the U-Bahn or in between classes.

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Helena Voltmer

<p>&ldquo;Who knows? Have patience. Go where you must go, and hope!&rdquo; &ndash; Gandalf</p>
<p>Just a college student exploring a big city for the first time with the purpose besides from the basic touristy things to get to know its quirks and beautiful inhabitants. Where this will lead I do not know but I cannot wait to find out.</p>

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International Relations
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