Every gram pays! After all, the backpack has to be carried for a week. The change of clothes is therefore spared, the sleeping bag is checked to see if a lighter model is available, and the small snapshot camera has to suffice instead of the large camera. All understandable – but then this: pastor markus merz voluntarily packs a thick book that weighs a good kilogram! But it is a very special book – created for a very special path and a very special undertaking.
On easter sunday it starts again: markus merz continues his way to jerusalem, which he started in 2010. The fourth stage starts in bratislava, slovakia, and ends in budapest, the capital of hungary.
A guest book, only the other way round
This time the pastor of the coburg moriz church will be accompanied by eight coburgers – and by the thick pilgrim book, which was made for him and given to him by the coburg bookbinder bernd rudolf fritz. Many beautiful entries are already in it, and markus merz is already curious which new ones will be added in the next days. "It's like a guest book – only the other way around", declares the parish priest. "Wherever we are guests or make a stop, we ask the hosts for an entry." This book already tells us a lot about the people markus merz has met. He was very moved by the entry of a woman: "pray for my friend – she is waiting for a heart." A year later, this woman spontaneously joined the pilgrimage group for a day and reported that the transplant had been performed in the meantime and that her friend was full of courage to live again.
Because the book is so heavy, the pilgrims take turns carrying it in the group. But it is not perceived as a burden – on the contrary. Now, when the upcoming stage was planned, many were already curiously leafing through the pages. Between bratislava and budapest there will be more time to read the names and concerns and maybe also to take them into prayer. "But there are still a lot of blank pages", someone remarked, to which markus merz said with a laugh: "that shows that the way to jerusalem is still very long!" He wants to reach the holy city in about five years – he wants to walk the stretch from the bosporus to jerusalem without interruption. Because this was allowed to last about three months, the pastor is considering taking a "sabbatical" for it ("sabbatical year"); that is, to be released from his duties as a pastor for this time.
If something similar to what happened to markus merz in austria last year were to happen on one of the next stages, jerusalem could also be reached very quickly.
National coach sets the pace
Among the locals who joined the coburg pilgrims again and again was on one day the former coach of the austrian marathon runners. "We were very fast on our way", markus merz remembers and smiles. The distance covered that day was enormous…
But once again back to the pilgrimage book. The book is on the altar at all services celebrated during the pilgrimage. Markus merz also finds the idea that in this way many people and their thoughts are carried to jerusalem. And he says: "there is a thought of jesus, which he once edited into a completely different pilgrimage book – as if there were a book that goes beyond our world. Then he said: rejoice that your names are written in heaven! This must be something like a home chronicle and a travel chronicle in one. I am glad that my name is already noted there."
From the pilgrimage book
Selection of some thoughts that have been entered in the pilgrimage book so far:
"The jerusalem way is the way of encounters."
"To fub you are not a stranger."
"Leaving traces – being on the way – experiencing god. Let the lord be your shepherd!"
"We are all pilgrims of god!"
"Jesus says: I am the way and also the goal."
"Wherever you go, go with all your heart!"
"May the angels accompany you!"