The Ökumenische Pilgerweg, Vacha and the Inner German Border

Here Germany & Europe were divided until 08.00, 12th November 1989 © Ricky Yates

Observant readers of this blog may have noticed that my wife Sybille, has not had a mention in any of my recent posts. This is because on Maundy Thursday 2nd April, Sybille travelled by train from Prague to Görlitz, a town lying in the south-eastern corner of the former East Germany on the border with Poland. Then on Good Friday morning, she set out to walk from Görlitz, 470 km along Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg, to the small town of Vacha, which lies on the former Inner German Border.

Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg was established in 2002-3, almost solely by the efforts of one lady, Esther Zeiher. It follows the line of the ancient Via Regia passing through Leipzig, Erfurt and Eisenach. . . . → Read More: The Ökumenische Pilgerweg, Vacha and the Inner German Border

ICS Chaplains Conference 2015

Mennorode Conference Centre © Ricky Yates

I spent Monday 27th April-Friday 1st May, attending the annual Intercontinental Church Society (ICS) Chaplains Conference, which this year took place at the Mennorode Conference Centre, Elspeet, in the Netherlands. As I mentioned in my first post of 2015, this has resulted in an addition to the number of countries I have visited, having never previously set foot in the Netherlands until two weeks ago today.

To get to the Conference Centre involved a drive from the Czech Republic, right across Germany, which eventually took ten hours – from 07.00 when I left Prague, until 17.00 when I finally got to Elspeet. This was somewhat longer than I had anticipated, almost entirely due to Baustellen/road works on the German Autobahn and associated Stau/traffic . . . → Read More: ICS Chaplains Conference 2015

Twenty-five years on from the Velvet Revolution

Havel navždy – Havel forever. © Ricky Yates

I had originally planned to write a blog post on this topic back in November 2014, immediately following the ‘Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day’ public holiday on Monday 17th November, which officially marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution on 17th November 1989. But rather than write an immediate reaction, I eventually decided that it was better to wait somewhat longer and give myself a little more time for both research and for reflection.

For although the events of 17th November 1989 were what initially triggered the Velvet Revolution, it took several weeks before on 29th December 1989, the previously Communist Party controlled rubber stamp Czechoslovak parliament, voted dissident playwright Václav Havel, to be the new President of Czechoslovakia with the promise of holding truly democratic parliamentary elections in . . . → Read More: Twenty-five years on from the Velvet Revolution

An interesting encounter and conversation at the end of a Christmas party

Our Christmas Party invitation

On the evening of Wednesday 10th December, Sybille and I attended the British Ambassador’s Christmas Party held at the Embassy in Mala Strana, one the nice little perks of being the Anglican Chaplain in Prague. Just as we were leaving the main reception room to go downstairs to collect our coats and head home, Sybille stopped to say ‘Hello’ and stroke Maya, one of the Ambassador’s two adopted Czech cats. Maya was occupying a vintage chair by the door, which had a rope stretched across between the two arms, to prevent humans sitting in it. But clearly such regulations do not apply to cats!

Standing nearby were two couples, with one of the couples speaking to each other in German. The German-speaking lady turned to watch Sybille speaking with the cat so I asked her whether she was German, (rather than . . . → Read More: An interesting encounter and conversation at the end of a Christmas party

Another insight into Czech life and culture

The rocks and forests of the Czech countryside © Ricky Yates

Yesterday, I officiated at the burial of ashes of two people, a husband and wife, into the family grave. Whilst this is something I would quite regularly do when Rector of a group of North Oxfordshire villages, this was the first time of doing so in just over six years of ministry here in the Czech Republic. I have also only conducted four funerals during that time, a reflection of the predominantly young age of the English-speaking expatriate population resident here.

However, although I conducted yesterday’s graveside service in English, it was very much a Czech occasion and was an illustration of several aspects of Czech life and culture. And because I want to protect the privacy of the family, I hope readers will forgive me for not referring to people or exact . . . → Read More: Another insight into Czech life and culture