Tag Archives: Neuschwanstein

Bats in the Belfry

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV Romans 8:28)

Over the years, I’ve stayed in a variety of places. These ranged from storage rooms in the back of broadcast complexes, to private homes, hotels, castles and palaces. Yes, I’ve stayed in a palace or two. The first palace I stayed the night in was with my wife and sons on our trip west toward castle Neuschwanstein. While it was considered a “hunting” lodge at one point it eventually was renovated to the status of palace. By the time we arrived it was a retreat center but still spectacular. We stayed in the queen’s room. Yep, the room we occupied was the room normally reserved when the queen came to visit. It was large, luxurious and just the intricate wood designs in the walls and on the ceilings impressed us as we brought in our plastic suitcases and two energetic boys.

Fortunately, it was updated with modern plumbing and heating. We enjoyed the thought of being temporary royalty as we strolled around the room and the grounds. We were traveling with friends who enjoyed the cushy comfort of their own royal chamber.

The second palace we enjoyed a few years later was also converted into a retreat center. In this case it was operated by a Christian group running retreats and summer camps for Christian youth and the occasional adult group. Considering the massive number of steps, we had to climb just to reach our room I can understand why it was more youth oriented than “older” adult oriented.

2008_06_BobPhotos_310Beth and I enjoyed the tallest tower on the south wing. Our room covered two floors within the round tower with a spectacular view of the surrounding valley. We were above most of the rest of the palace with a spire on top of our nice room. The bath and toilet were by the entrance. A few steps up from there was the kitchen and dining area. From there we climbed steep steps (aka a ladder) into the living area. To reach the beds we crawled through a triangular door (like the Krell construction on Altair in the sci-fi classic, “The Forbidden Planet”) where two single sleeping mats were laid head to head. The ceiling over the beds was the roof of the adjoining building giving just enough room to slide in for the night. In truth, I couldn’t sit up without hitting my head on the ceiling. Ah, the comforts of palace living.

Snuggled in for the night, a hot night at that, we eventually fell asleep. I’m not a big fan of sleeping on futon beds but that was what we had. I like a little more padding. Part way through the night we were awakened by a noise in the living area. Since a youth retreat was in progress we thought maybe someone had wandered in thinking the room was vacant. Beth and I crawled on our elbows like the two legged Krell and looked out the portal.

There, flitting back and forth in the living room, were a couple bats enjoying the darkness of night. Apparently, they were doing us a service by gulping down the little critters who were flying around the room looking to feast on us for dinner. The bats, although spooky to watch, were keeping us off the menu for the night. Thank you bats!

I’ve heard the phrase “bats in the belfry” many times in life. That night it took on a whole different meaning. Granted, this wasn’t a bell tower but it was close enough. When we arose we carefully peaked out the Krell doorway and assured ourselves they departed during the morning hours.

I wonder about what God allows to cross the path of my life. Sometimes I get annoyed or distracted as things can flitter this way and that disrupting what I think needs to be accomplished. I want to shoo the distractions out of the way and get on with things. Now I’m inclined to think these ‘distractions’ are at times little helpers to clear away other obstacles from my walk with Him. The have their unseen benefits, like eating insects we couldn’t see in the night, and protect us from hidden obstacles. Next time I’m in a castle with bats I think I’ll just watch them for a while and think of God’s protection.

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Music Hall

2003_germanswitzerland_0280Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. (1 Chronicles 15:16 NASB) 

I think I starting singing when I came out of the womb. At the time it sounded like singing to me and screaming to my parents. By the time I was five I started taking piano lessons. At about eleven I conned a neighbor into teaching me how to play the guitar. He was a professional guitar player with a black and white television. We had color. The bargain was, he taught me a lesson each week and we let him watch his favorite television show, Star Trek, in color. I think it was a good bargain. Since then I’ve taken every opportunity to sing, play and enjoy the wonders of music.

I’m not alone in my quest for the soul swaying strains of that perfect blend of harmony and melody. In Germany, King Ludwig II, the fairy-tale king, built a marvelous castle named Neuschwanstein. It’s rumored the castle in Disneyland was based on Ludwig’s masterpiece. I’ve seen both and Disneyland is not quite the same.

Sitting atop Jugend, replacing the ruins of two previous castles, the structure is spectacular. Walking through the front gates is like walking into a fairy-tale castle. Unlike other fortresses designed by men of war; Neuschwanstein was designed by an opera stage designer. It’s romantic looking but incomplete. Ludwig was arrested before the final stages of construction and died shortly afterward of dubious circumstances.

People travel from around the globe to visit this imposing site and so, along with close friends, we joined the throng of tourists. It was a dream holiday for a castle lover such as myself. With our friends we toured the interior, room by room.

Each lavishly decorated room captured our interest and ignited our imagination. Electricity, central heat and other modern ideas came to life in this old world fortress. In the middle of our tour we were ushered into the Singers Hall. The tour guide expounded eloquently with praises for its superb construction and audio acoustic quality.

We gawked at the precision construction punctuated by beautifully painted panels depicting scenes from the legend of Grail King Parsival, the father of Lohengrin. Phil, my friend, and I looked at each other and had the same thought, let’s sing! We inhaled, stood up straight, opened our mouths ready to bring forth a beautiful song. Our wives, on the other hand, looked a bit concerned as they recognized a dangerous look of mischief in our expressions.

Before they could say anything, or undergo the embarrassment of our singing in the middle of a tour, we caught the look of fear in their eyes, our senses took over, and we closed our mouths and exhaled slowly. We remained quiet and could hear the smallest noise. Each breath, each step, each syllable spoken was heard clearly anywhere in the room. It was magnificent.

God created music as a glorious means of praise and worship. With all the hoopla and bantering about musical styles, instruments and tempo, we forget God put music into our hearts to praise Him. Musicians and singers were appointed for the tabernacle and continued their magnificent ministrations in the temple. We appoint singers in our churches. During the course of a day we often break into choruses and songs. As we walk through the Christian life melodies of praise rise up to lighten our step and draw us closer to God’s side.

Our praise reaches God’s ears as he sits in the perfect throne room of heaven. No earthly engineer could hope to approach the spectacular acoustical precision surrounding God’s faultless ears. The beauty of Heaven’s throne room makes our most precious paintings appear as childish scrawls. The most carefully engineered auditorium on earth can’t compare with the perfect sound of God’s children as their songs of praise reverberate in heaven.

As we sing, even those without earthly musical perfection, God hears every breath, every beat of our heart, every syllable of our song of worship. They are perfect to His ears. They fill His heavenly heart with joy. They reach his throne as an offering of fragrant aroma. This is the joy of lifting our voices to praise our creator, our strength, our God!

Still, when we are silent, God can hear every footstep we make, every thump of our heart, every ache which cries out to Him. It’s a different melody but the perfection of His throne room turns it into beautiful music in His ears.

Next time I’m silent I’ll let my heart sing to the Lord in heaven. I’ll let the footsteps of my life bring a melody to God’s heart. I’ll know He’s listening. It’ll be worth it all.

Next time I’m in a beautiful place, inspired to sing and moved with God’s presence I don’t think I’ll hesitate. I’ll open my mouth and sing my Lord’s praises. Let those around me think I’m strange. What does that matter if God is praised, if He is worshiped, if His name is lifted in the miracle of music before His throne. It will be worth it all.

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