It was hard to get moving this morning. Despite plenty of sleep we both felt tired and grouchy and somehow at a loss to find the passion and enthusiasm that got us doing this in the first place. We were temporarily distracted from our bad moods by our visit to the St. George Church, which boasts a gorgeous organ loft and some fascinating specimens of early Protestant church art, one a death memorial painting with what appeared to be the owner’s own skull and crossbones.
Then it was off into the drizzling rain again. It didn’t rain that hard, or even for the whole day, but the clouds hung low and gray, and when you spend a lot of time outside your mood tends to reflect your surroundings. The Jakobsweg looked a bit meandering for our taste—we were also mindful of the fact that our next two days will be quite long—so we decided to be old-fashioned and use a real paper map to cut some corners. This wasn’t necessarily a more authentic Luther experience, since all he really needed was list of cities to pass through; there was rarely more than one road between towns, which greatly reduces the chances of getting lost, and said roads were not populated by noisy speeding cars, prompting the desire to find some alternate route. But since we have GPS-ed it most of the way, it was a different sort of experience. It also meant we got lost once in the woods. Being lost in the woods, in the rain, walking uphill, is not exactly a mood-lifter either.
Once we re-found ourselves, we were on the other side of the Ries crater and over the rim. We discovered a hikers’ hut and stopped for awhile to cook some hot lunch and regain our sense of purpose. This was a mild success and the rest of the afternoon’s walk, though still drizzly and not terribly fascinating, was at least not the oppressive burden that the morning’s walk had been.
At the end of the road was the Abtei Neresheim, a Benedictine cloister that has the distinction of giving us our first pilgrim-passport stamp. (Presumably we could’ve gotten them elsewhere, but we’ve honestly had no idea where to go or whom to ask.) It’s a large and bustling place with bright white rooms, abbey honey and beer for sale, and a seasonal kitchen with the adorably named Pfifferlinge mushrooms on the menu. After dinner we wound up at the abbey church for Compline: Baroque again, but with more restraint and soaring lift—I was particularly impressed with the enormous free-standing pillars between the nave and chancel. The church suffers, unfortunately, from appalling acoustics, so we listened to the monks pray once and then a second time in the echo.
Here’s hoping that tomorrow gets off to a better start. Your encouraging comments help us re-focus and carry on, so thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write us a note. We’re always glad for more!