By Tobias Strahl, May 2023. As if I was reborn myself I am wandering the Bosnian mountains – and that is more than a metaphor as everyone knows who has experienced the grace of being able to be active in physical, intellectual and spiritual terms. The »old« provides the fertile soil for the »new« by which it finally will be replaced. On the former sites of death and decay now »the grass rises thick and clean, it shines like the sea« [Mary Oliver, Field Near Linden, Alabama, Wilde Geese]. Every year when the snow begins to melt I am eagerly waiting for that short period, starting in the last days of April and lasting, depending on how fast heat and dryness are growing, until the end of May, when nature, tentative at first, then more and more unbridled, unfolds the new world I feel invited to find my place in. And every year I see the miracle, as on the first day ever, full of incredulous amazement.
In the rural parts of Bosnia, especially in the East, one finds a world lost in the most positive and the most negative sense of the word. If you stroll around here with open eyes, you need a strong heart and a resistent soul (both I have only very rarely at my disposal). If you open up – what you necessarily need to do to perceive and appreciate – then you will be flooded by the beauty of an invincible life, an abundant nature, the secrets of a world that is constantly recreating itself, by the hospitality of the people and not the least by the power of their intoxicants. Thus open, you will also be defenceless against the unspeakable crimes, murder and destruction that have marked this soil. Whole communities were killed, tortured, driven from their land, the reminders of their former presence ground. And yet, a timeless life is reclaiming this terrible space again. An endless prayer. And a nameless »Keep it up!«. Nature either is a persistance in mourning or it does not know such thing at all.
Generally, it is a good idea to stroll around alone with yourself. Anyway, you take all the people and things you know with you. If one can see beauty in things he or she has not created himself is a decisive question in my eyes. Am I able to accept a world existing without my intervention? That is more an exercise than a question. In this respect, every walk becomes an »endless adventure« [Thoreau]. And every walk that we undertake with our eyes open seems to hold the promise never ever to return. To accept this idea is to grant rights over oneself to both horror and hope.