I am not a religious man. Ask anyone. I’ve cursed the lord and taken his name in vain so many times that, if there is a hell, I’ve practically paved the road to it. That’s just the tip of it. I’ve cheated, robbed, killed and scammed my way, somewhat inexplicably, into the hearts of those who love me. So when it comes to being thankful and paying homage to some higher power, I got nothing. About the only thing I am thankful for is that those who love me don’t know the half of it.
I am a cultured man. Ask anyone. I enjoy the finer things. I appreciate art, fashion, architecture, and food. I actively seek culture wherever I am.
I am not easily moved. Ask anyone. I take no pride in my inability to empathise, though it is something I have come to terms with. So imagine my dismay as I find myself feeling humbled sitting here in the Hall of Worship at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
I rest in awe.
From the outside it’s an unremarkable four story dull brown hexagon constructed with tens of thousands of stained glass fragments laid from ground to ceiling within a concrete honeycomb. What I discover inside are towering walls of the deepest midnight blue giving way to subtlest bursts of ruby red, emerald green and golden yellow. The daylight is filtered so densely that it fails to penetrate to the centre of the room giving the impression of a deep abyss /above/ the hall.
Hanging over the humble altar is a 20 foot golden Jesus. I know, it sounds garish. It isn’t. I’ve never seen anything so perfect in my life. This isn’t a Jesus that begs for sympathy, who pulls at your heartstrings, this is the King of Kings. A leader of men. Unapologetic.
I don’t like to sit. Ask anyone. I am no good at the movies or a restaurant; I am more annoying to others than myself. Though the result is always the same. It is I that must move.
Not here. Here I sit for hours.
A hand on my shoulder interrupts my solace. Closing time. I am kindly ushered out into the fading light of a chill Berlin evening.
I am an articulate man. Ask anyone. So it is with a great loss of dignity that I admit to you, I cannot explain how it is that I know am changed – I just know that I am.