Saturday, 17 November 2007

Planting trees with Martin Luther

I went to a press conference yesterday which launched a really great idea for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant (Lutheran) Reformation in 2017. It's called the Luthergarten and will be built and planted in Lutherstadt-Wittenberg, the mayor of Wittenberg Eckhard Naumann travelled to Geneva for the launch.
Martin Luther is supposed to have once said "even if I knew that the world would end tomorrow I would still plant an apple tree today". The idea for the Luthergarden is that churches throughout the world could sponsor the planting of one of the 500 trees which will be part of the Garden on the banks of the Elbe and that they could also plant a tree where they are which would celebrate Wittenberg. A way of affirming how much the Reformation in the 16th century influenced and changed the world, the garden is to be a symbol of reconciliation and interconnectedness.

At a personal level it was moving for me to see how creative people in Wittenberg are, how they are trying to use the anniversary proactively to prepare for a more inclusive and long-lasting celebration. I've only been in Wittenberg once on Reformation day, on October 31st 1989. I was living in this rather sleepy provincial town at the time, 10 days later the Berlin wall was to come down and change things for ever, but on that day I remember how many visitors there were to the small town behind the iron curtain, this was a real annual event bringing people from far away. It's easy for me now living in a small town of 8,000 inhabitants with 92 different nationalities to get blasé about internationalism but I can see the power of planting 500 trees which point to 500 other places in the world. Listening to the project I felt as if not all of the creative spirit of the peaceful revolution in eastern Europe had been lost, I think it's a great idea and hope it takes off.

(Photo: © LWB/P. Mumia)

1 Comment:

Gustavo Bonato said...

Lutherans are the best! LOL!