A sign from the closet

A silent witness


Today, I rediscovered a little label in my closet. “O. A.” That signifies me. That piece of clothing belongs to me.

However, I didn’t get excited about the possession. Having things and defending ownership is meaningless for me. This little label comes from a time, when my mother used to label the clothing of all siblings – not only to avoid having them mixed up among them, but also – as they started to leave the nest – as  a reminder to take care of things out there in a world that does not provide the sheltering and protecting environment home offers.

Today, this little label has a different meaning. I left home for the world in 1979. I have been moving around. This insulating layer has moved along ever since. It has protected me from climatic inconveniences for many years under various circumstances.

As far as I am aware, it is the last piece of clothing from my youth that still serves its purpose. It has survived all consumerist trends. I will continue to honour it as a silent witness against wasteful lifestyles.

Ein Zeichen im Kleiderschrank

Ein stiller Zeuge


Heute habe ich im Kleiderschrank ein kleines Namensschild wieder entdeckt. “O. A.” Das sind meine Initialen. Das Kleidungsstück gehört mir.

Doch, Besitz erregt mich nicht: Das Haben von Dingen und die Verteidigung von Besitzstand ist bedeutungslos für mich. Dieses Namensschild kommt aus einer Zeit in der meine Mutter die Kleider aller Geschwister markierte: nicht nur um Verwechslungen untereinander zu vermeiden, sondern auch um daran zu erinnern, dazu Sorge zu tragen als wir nach und nach in die grosse weite Welt auszogen, die im Vergleich zum Zuhause dann nicht mehr eine behütete Umgebung bieten würde.

Heute hat das Namensschild für mich eine ganz andere Bedeutung. Ich bin 1979 von Zuhause aus gezogen. Und ich bin in der Welt herum gekommen. Das Wollhemd ist mir seither gefolgt. Es hat mich in verschiedenen Umständen vor unangenehmen klimatischen Einflüssen geschützt.

Soweit ich weiss, ist dies das letzte Kleidungsstück aus meiner Jugend das heute noch nützlich ist. Es hat alle Konsumströmungen überlebt. Ich will es als stiller Zeuge gegen verschwenderische Lebensentwürfe weiter in Ehren halten.


The twelfth day of Christmas

The formal end of the winter holiday season is the feast day of Epiphany on January 6, at least for people familiar with a liturgical calendar. The day marks the day of Jesus’ physical manifestation to the people outside the Jewish community. The following scene depicts the visit of the magi:

Epiphany - fresco from 1408 by an unknown artist in the church of Tenna, Switzerland
Epiphany – fresco from 1408 by an unknown artist in the church of Tenna, Switzerland

Why are there twelve nights of Christmas? Is it not sufficient to have the holiday shopping season open the day after Halloween? Do we need another extension of the most wasteful and profitable period of consumer spending?

The twelve nights of Christmas seem to have been observed long before the Christmas season got corrupted. Continue reading “The twelfth day of Christmas”

Der zwölfte Weihnachtstag

Der formelle Abschluss der winterlichen Festtagszeit ist der Dreikönigstag am 6. Januar, wenigsten für die Leute die vertraut sind mit einem liturgischen Kalender. An dem Tag werden wir an die Vorstellung von Jesus an die Menschen ausserhalb der jüdischen Gemeinde erinnert. Die folgende Szene zeigt den Besuch der Weisen aus dem Morgenland:

Epiphany - fresco from 1408 by an unknown artist in the church of Tenna, Switzerland
Epiphanie – Fresco von 1408 einem unbekannte Künstler in der Kirche von Tenna, Schweiz.

Warum gibt es denn die zwölf Rauhnächte? Genügt es denn nicht wenn der jährliche Weihnachtsverkauf schon an Allerheiligen eröffnet wird? Brauchen wir noch eine weitere Verlängerung dieser verschwenderischen und höchst profitablen Periode des Kaufrausches ?

Die Rauhnächte scheinen schon lange vor dem Aufkommen des kommerzialisierten Weihnachtsfestes gefeiert worden sein. Continue reading “Der zwölfte Weihnachtstag”

Daily Random Act of Kindness #4

It is the custom of the Simple Way community to start the day with a common prayer at eight. After arriving in Philadelphia very tired, I realized that I am travelling very lightly (on purpose) and thus have neither a watch nor an alarm clock with me. How am I going to meet the community on time with my internal clock influenced by time zone changes and the tiredness from traveling on a train overnight?

I eventually figured out the technical part. I can use my Swiss cell phone as a timekeeper and alarm clock. But what I experienced was so much nicer: Fifteen minutes before the set time, a sparrow landed on the air conditioning unit that is installed in the window right next to my bed. The little bird started to happily chirp away for a few minutes. This unspectacular bird song was waking me up gently.

What a contrast to the repeat sirens from emergency vehicles, mixed in with the low rumble of the elevated subway system, and the cacophony of neighbourhood sounds and voices that is an almost constant companion in the background.

I am grateful for the little bird. It came back again this morning, right on time, to remind me of the beginning of another beautiful day in an unfamiliar city. Let the prayers begin.

To learn more about Tenyoh’s art work, please visit:Empathetic Reflections of Human Nature through the Eyes of a Nurse

Don’t waste your time!

I was brought up with the mantra don’t waste your time. My parents were quite insistent that their children make the most of their time (and definitely not waste theirs). Only now do I realize that this attitude was not something purely utilitarian – a way to make it out of misery and to the top. It actually has biblical roots:

Make best use of the time, because the days are evil. Eph 5:16 (ESV)

For my parents’ and grandparents’ generation making most of their time seemed to have worked. They all have roots in an agrarian lifestyle – something that for the most part excluded options in life, and was equally associated with a good measure of back-breaking labour, servitude, misery and poverty. But they overcame the burden thereof and created for themselves a much more comfortable worldly existence.

Continue reading “Don’t waste your time!”