A surreal experience: driving Sunday evening from the West to the East. Across the Iron Curtain border.
Since we hiked the Austrian Alps this past weekend, we drove back to Prague through Germany on Sunday. We passed through the flatlands around Munich to the rolling hills of hops fields in Eastern Germany, past the German rest stops with the automatic cleaning toilets and toward the step back in time at the Czech border. As we drove, the sun set in brilliant tangerine-orange across the Western sky behind us.
We headed toward the darkness, toward the inky hills and rural countryside. Toward the East.
I think for all of us, passing the sprawling, rusting former communist checkpoint at the German-Czech border was chilling. It was just dark enough out to send shivers under the skin. To think of the years from the sixties to the late eighties when countless lives were lost trying to escape to the West at that very border crossing …
Unsettling. We all have thoughts—where are we living? Where is our home? We’re going back?
But, as we stopped to refuel a few kilometers inside the Czech Republic, we remembered. While paying, I inadvertently spoke in German to the cashier. The amazing look of surprise in his eyes! And then, one of our sons said so innocently, “Finally—we can speak Czech. We’re almost home.”
It was at that moment that we realized that yes, we were almost home. To Prague. The former East. A beautiful country with a priceless soul.
Let Freedom Ring …