The following is a recollection of Ash Wednesday, 2006 (March 1), which I spent in a visit to the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen, in Eibingen, Germany. It was a day that helped change the course of my life.
It was cold, very cold on that Ash Wednesday morning, as I saw the first darts of dawn sparkle on the Rhein’s waters and light the road up the hill to the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen. The bare branches of the grape vines on the slope were dusted with the previous night’s snow, undisturbed by the revelry in Rüdesheim, the town below—the Germans call it Fasching, the French, Mardi Gras. I reveled in neither, for it had been early to bed Tuesday night, early to rise Wednesday morning, that I might catch the trains from Mainz to Rüdesheim in time for the morning service.