Sunday, July 13, 2014

Perspective in Austria

Schonbrunn Castle with 1400 rooms.
Michael and I just returned from an eight day trip to Vienna, Austria.  Michael had to attend a conference there of the International Society of Biblical Literature, and I was able to tag along with him as a part vacation/part honeymoon/part writing-a-paper-for-my-Economics-class.  When Michael learned of this opportunity shortly after our engagement, he began to give plasma regularly to save up in order to buy my plane ticket.  It was a great gift of love he gave me in this trip.

Overview of Vienna
Vienna is an incredible city.  The architecture is beyond the ability to capture by camera.  The buildings are beautiful.  The landscaping is inviting, with benches everywhere beckoning people to relax and take in the sights.  The history and culture is rich and deep.  The food is very rich and the desserts are to die for.  Seriously.  A.MAZ.ING. I've never had desserts like this before.  We visited a church that is 1000 years old; we spent time in a castle and a museum the likes of which I've never seen before.

And this is where perspective begins to come in.  The week starts out with the conference, and Michael is introducing me to authors who are experts in their field as it relates to Biblical research, history, and worlds that are yet unknown to me.  When I talk about Business as Mission, there is some interest, but I'm reminded of how small a part of the world my passion fits in.  These people too are part of a very small crowd of people who deeply delve into aspects of the Bible that are unique and intense!

Inside St. Stephens Cathedral, built in 1100 AD.
Then as I tour this historically rich and ornate city, and visit museums with artifacts that date back to times before Christ, my perspective increased even more.  People were creating the most beautiful artifacts 2000-3000 years ago, with detail and talent that I could never muster.  Translations of the Bible or the Koran dating back hundreds and hundreds of years ago, captured on little scraps of papyrus, that require skills and dedication in both the translation and the preservation.  This world is so rich with creativity and talent; people made in the image of God over centuries, living out their purposes and their callings.  We often found ourselves shaking our heads as we walked through this city, having been reminded of an amazing perspective on this world and its people.
St. Stephen's Cathedral - damaged during WWII.

I admit that I struggled with being in such a rich place.  While I typically live amidst great poverty, I found myself both admiring these incredible works of art and rich cultural pieces, while knowing the financial cost that it takes for those to be made and preserved.  Additionally, I am acutely aware that most people I know and work with will never get to see such wealth and such beauty.  It raised up conflicting feelings during the course of the week. We wondered what things would be like in heaven - whether such great works of art and creativity would be replicated there as well.  We wondered what God's appreciation is for these types of pieces would be. 

It was a beautiful week, filled with learning about God's people.  Vienna boasts that it is home to Mozart, Freud, Johann Strauss, Einstein, Hayak, von Misis, and many, many others.  Praise God for His creation and His people!

Two things we noted about Vienna:  first, they love rich meat and desserts; they don't love vegetables.  Second, they walk and bike a lot, but they also smoke a lot - all ages, all the time!
The Parliament
City Hall, which also hosted a free film festival each night on the large screen pictured here.  We were able to watch a 1940 showing of a Romeo and Juliet ballet one night, under the stars, with hundreds of others.  It was beautiful.
Freud's apartment and office.
We were in the room where Mozart gave his first concert, at the age of 6, to the imperial family.
This beautiful cafe, Cafe Central, had the most amazing desserts. Yes, this beautiful building with intricate ceiling work is just a cafe.
The Museum of Art History - the building was as beautiful as its contents.  One could take a day just to explore the building, let alone the amazing artifacts found inside.
We were so thankful for this time and opportunity to see another piece of God's world, as well as to have this time with just the two of us!