Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Carpetbag

That was a lot to take in! Heinrich tried to put the pieces in order and fit them to the next week. But it was not a question of convenience or schedule; it was one of loyalty and truth. Martin Luther had touched a nerve deep in the heart of Germany, and the repercussions were being felt all across Europe. Heinrich was being asked to play a small part in that story. And so he looked up into the eyes of Jan-Harm and said, “Yes, I would be honored to do this.”
“As to the gate, the details are all in the drawing. My farm is located south of Dessau, a day’s ride west of Wittenberg. The sheet has a small map. God bless you.” With that, Jan-Harm gave the roll to Heinrich with the admonition, “Guard those instructions with your life.“ He arose and departed. 
As Heinrich watched Jan-Harm leave, he thought about when he had begun this journey. It was six years ago when he attended Wittenberg University and heard the new professor of Biblical Theology, Martin Luther, for the first time. Dr. Martin spoke passionately and with a commanding presence; the students flocked to see him. He made religion seem as though the average person could understand it. He spoke straight from the Bible; most students had barely seen one, let alone read it since it was written in Latin. Heinrich’s father had died toward the end of his studies at the university, so he chose to put his dreams on hold as he took over his father’s iron working business. His mother and sister needed him to provide for the family. Still, he tried to keep in touch with Martin and the growing student movement which kept his ideas alive. 
But the audacious monk was greeted with alarm by the Church. There were clashes with those who sold indulgences, and bulls were issued that forbade his teaching. When his books were burned by Rome, Martin burned the papal edict for his arrest in reply. The friction increased from there to this. Would Martin’s voice be heard again? If Heinrich had anything to do with it, Martin’s words would reach all across Germany. He would begin tonight!  That evening at home, he told his mother he had an important errand to take care of. He kissed her goodbye and headed out the door.

Such was the day, but the real challenge lay ahead. Heinrich gathered his courage, stood up from the bench, and set off towards the University that had been founded by Frederick the Wise. Heinrich rehearsed the layout of the office. The front part had a desk, various chairs, and two tables. The walls had several built-in bookcases. One back room was used for storage, and there were two windows. Heinrich walked toward a side entrance closest to Luther’s office. He opened the door, looked down the hall, quietly walked a few steps to Martin’s office and turned the key in the lock. When it clicked, he quickly entered and shut the door behind him.

With his back to the door, Heinrich breathed a sigh of relief and let his eyes adjust to the light. The first thing on the list was a carpetbag that was supposed to be in the storage room.  He found it in a corner near a table; it was decorated with a paisley pattern. With a quick glance at the window, he returned to the office and began searching for the books that Martin wanted. Some had their titles in Greek and some were in Latin; two were in German.  Each chosen book went into the bag. Behind the desk was a table with a pile of papers; he was instructed to bring all of them and so he did. Hanging on the wall was a crocheted calendar; it was the last item. As he started toward the door he froze when he heard steps and talking in the hall. He could make out the words “poor Martin” as the steps and the conversation trailed off. 

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