Déjà vu – Revisited

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How can you feel like you’ve come home – in a place you’ve never been? I’m not sure, but after ten days in Denmark and Romania, that’s how it felt when we arrived in Holzhausen, Germany, home of the Wycliffe Center and about an hour outside Frankfurt. I felt like I’d been there before, many times.

Holzhausen, Germany

"Downtown" Holzhausen, Germany

The truth is, I’ve never been to Holzhausen in my life. (Actually, there are three Holzhausen’s in the area, and I’ve never visited a single one.)

But my lineage is German, both sides, with a little Brazilian, Romanian, Russian and a smidge of Polish thrown in for good measure. Sort of like our family mutt—cute, but no purebred.

If you start climbing my family tree, though, certain familiar traits crop up: the ever-popular mile-wide stubborn streak, immovable insistence on black-and-while thinking and obsessive need to do things “right.”

In contrast, the base of my family tree is surrounded by ruthlessly manicured lawns and colorful, rioting flower gardens that could make an angel weep.

Wycliffe Center, Holzhausen, Germany

Flowers at the Wycliffe Center, Holzhausen, Germany

Sadly, I did not inherit the green thumb of my ancestors. My gardening philosophy is more, “If you survive the winter, you’re welcome to live in our yard. Good luck.”

 As for the other traits…hmm, I’m not going there.

But last month, being in Germany felt like I’d spun a kaleidoscope and a whole new pattern emerged. Random pieces of my life realigned and fell neatly into place. My family, my world, and my place in it became a little clearer.

I had this same feeling the first time I went to Germany on a summer mission trip as a teen. I remember gaping in shock, thinking, “There is a whole COUNTRY of people just like my family.” Bratwurst and bratkartoffeln are everyday dishes. Spicy brown mustard is the only kind that counts. The front porch gets swept clean every morning. Doesn’t everyone’s? You do certain things in certain ways because…that’s how it’s supposed to be done. Wurst for breakfast and company welcomed with coffee, cake and a warm smile.

Holzhausen, Germany

Holzhausen, Germany

Being in Germany made me appreciate my family and heritage all the more. The countryside was beautiful; the people so gracious and hospitable.

My German was a little rusty at first, but when a shopkeeper pointed me towards the German—not English—version of a guidebook, I knew I’d come full circle. 

Misty morning in Holzhausen, Germany

Misty morning in Holzhausen, Germany

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    The Conversation

  1. Years ago (over 30) I felt like that when visiting Greece! I’m not Greek but I felt so at home there.
    I was told later that I had several happy lifetimes in Greece. 🙂

  2. Hi Connie – I am so enjoying your trip with these blogs. Keep them coming.
    I once felt I’d been someplace before without ever having been there when I went to the Highlands in Scotland. It was the oddest feeling. I actually cried. As far as I know my heritage is Welsh, Dutch and typical Heinz American, but I was completely moved by Scotland and felt connected to it.

    I wonder if there is such a thing as genetic memory? (cue dramatic suspenseful music!)

    • Connie Mann says:

      Lynne–Genetic memory…hmmm…now there’s something that has me thinking! So glad you are enjoying the posts! I’d love to visit the Scottish Highlands someday, too!

  3. Lilly Gayle says:

    Beautiful pictures and a lovely blog. I love Germany. My daughter lives in Eschenback with her husband and it is indeed a beautiful country. We visited in the summer of 08 and then again this past April. I loved it! Wish I could go visit every year.

    As for gardening, my thumb isn’t green either. My philosophy is this: If God wants those flowers I planted to live, he’ll make it rain. Otherwise, they’re on their own. lol!

  4. Leslie Santamaria says:

    Connie, Your pictures are inspiring. Holzhausen looks like such a charming town! I could write there…