Christmas markets were something I looked forward to all year long when living abroad. I had a list of the ones that were my favorites, the ones with the best glühwein (Strasbourg), the ones that had the best ornament selection (Colmar), and the ones that transported me into a magical Christmas fairytale-like land (Basel, Dresden, Vienna) and gave me the feeling of anticipation about the holiday season. On Black Friday in Kandern, we would pile into someone's car and drive to Colmar or Strasbourg or Freiburg and spend the evening sipping hot wine and eating all sorts of delectable goodies while wandering around these more or less magical little shops filled to the brim with ornaments and so much Christmas, it almost made you wonder if Santa Claus himself had set up all the shops.
So naturally on Monday when I heard about the attack at the Christmas market, I was stunned. Not because I didn't expect it - in fact, I had wondered when it would eventually happen at a Christmas market- but because I knew people in Berlin, knew what it was like to innocently walk around those markets without a care in the world, except that of being able to find the car in the busy parking garages.
The market that was chosen was in one of the most touristy places in Berlin. I've not been to Berlin during the Christmas season, but I've been in that area before and I can remember what it looks like from memory. I kept thinking about those tourists, who, just like me, wanted to go out for a lovely evening of Christmas. Perhaps they were sipping on a glühwein or about to purchase an ornament for a loved one back home. I've been there doing that exact thing. The last thing on my mind would have been an attack.
I've been talking to my friend Brie who works with GEM in Berlin. She told me the day after the attack she felt compelled to go to the site and pray. I told her to do it if she felt so lead. When she arrived, there was a prayer vigil being held with leaders of the country. She told me she was so glad she had gone.
Today, I got a text from her and she told me she and her friends had a fondue party tonight with their small group. Among their group included three guests - two Syrians and one Iranian. I immediately smiled when I read it. In the midst of all of the chaos and the tragedy and the "yuck" in our world, there was unity happening.
Every night and every morning I've woken up with my other home country on my heart and mind. I've been praying for wisdom and peace among the leaders of Germany and the EU.
It's all I can do from over here.