I often find that my best time to write is in the early hours of the morning when everyone is soundly asleep. Still snoring away silently in their respective houses. In this dark quiet city, where there is almost no noise at night. Who am I kidding?! Sirens blaring 24/7. That I will not miss. The measureless concrete jungle of stern broad looking buildings. Glaring into space. That too I will not miss.
Today is the morning of my departure from this cold dark, lonely city. I often wonder how such a big city like Berlin can reflect total isolation. It was almost as if I experienced Berlin in the same way that the people of Berlin experienced it during the cold war era. During the Berlin wall era. Separation. Isolation. Loneliness. Depression. Tiredness.
While I was in Berlin – I felt like I was walking the marathon. Does that sound crazy? Perhaps it does. Perhaps it doesn’t to some. Perhaps some of you will understand me, because you walked a similar journey to me in this city. This city captures two worlds. People experience the senses of this city in two different ways. Either they love it or either they are trapped in a timeless bubble that won’t pop. I know people in both groups. The ones that absolutely love Berlin – the hustle and bustle of BIG city life. And the ones that feel the drag of air pollution encircling them trapping them into a bubble that simply won’t pop. I was in the latter group. Trapped in a bubble. Socially isolated. Battling depression. Battling extreme exhaustion. Must be the pollution. The distances one travelled just to get to work, or the sheer amount of time it took to get to work. I can’t pinpoint it exactly.
But arriving in Berlin seven months ago, totally discouraged on day one of my arrival dampened my senses to enjoying the hidden beauty of this city. I arrived not feeling any peace in my spirit, and the turmoil within me was only heightened by being scammed out of money for an apartment that did not exist. Only for me to land begrudgingly at the doorstep of a lovely Christian couple who took me in and nourished me God’s love over the last seven months. The first days of my arrival in Berlin I was exhausted from all the emotional upheaval in my life. The uncertainties lapping over in every area of my life, with no clear direction of where to go. I guess God was just saying REST. Hannah rest. Patience Hannah. Did I rest? Did I have patience? No! It took a while for me to find rest in Him. It took me a while to feel His presence again. Even work upon arriving at work wasn’t what I expected. Chaotic to say the least. And I sat there thinking: What on earth have I done? Months later I feel like I have walked the marathon simply because of the overwhelming exhaustion I experienced.
The journey began, with me quickly becoming tired with unexplained fatigue. Fatigue that lasted days, and festered on my emotions, spiritual and physical life. I would muster up all the energy just to get into work, to come home into a state of unmitigated exhaustion. And weekends were the worst, where the pain in my muscles, the brain fog was so severe that I was paralysed to my bed. My bed became my haven. My safe place where I slept for hours in a seemingly deep sleep only for me to wake up even more exhausted. It was a circle. I was trapped in this circle floating around Berlin, and I couldn’t get out.
Only certain people in this city were able to get into my bubble. To share my space. To float around haplessly in my miserable woman cave. They were able to draw out the real Hannah. They were able to taste a bit of my humour and get me to see the other side of the flip coin. What can you learn in this great big city? Reminding me to keep my eyes focused on the cross. Reminding me that I am not alone. That even God is sitting in my bubble walking this marathon of exhaustion with me. Maybe it was the air pollution that got me sick. Maybe it was the social isolation that got me sick. Maybe it was my first bad day experience that got me sick in Berlin. Maybe it was many combined factors that got me ill. That got me screaming in pain because I could barely move my limbs, because the fatigue was overwhelming.
I feel like as I leave this overwhelming city of oppression (for some it formulates other characteristics) but for me it was oppression, social isolation, like I was confined to the invisible walls of West Berlin. I feel relieved with a mixture of sadness. For those people who managed to get into my bubble and ride the bubble with me – those moments I will always remember with fondness. It was those scarce moments that made my time in Berlin worthwhile. It was those moments that made my time in Berlin enjoyable. They were few and far between. But they existed, and it was like charging my battery to give me a renewed energy burst and for that I will be truly thankful. To those people who took the time to get to know me, and to spend time with me.
I am curious what the next stage of my life will be like. I am not worried. I am actually in total peace about it, because I know that the Lord is in control and will walk with me. I am hoping that the overwhelming fatigue will leave me as I exit this city. That the bubble will finally crack open like an egg, and that I can tentatively step out again and smell the freshness of spring flowers, and the singing birds around me. I am looking forward to seeing green again. Lots of green around me, and if I do, I am sure I’ll step out onto the grass with my bare feet. Let the sojourn begin and may the Lord bless you wherever you are.
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