Maria ErlingMy mother, Marilyn Erling, had a restless yearn for travel.  This served her well when she married my father, leaving the next week for Germany where he had gotten a Fulbright scholarship for 1954-55.  She kept a journal of the times in Heidelberg, where she had to make the coffee grounds last for a week, even while entertaining other students and theologians – Wolfhart Pannenberg was one of them – and recorded her thoughts, observations, and excitement at being at the center of all things academic, and Lutheran, and foreign. She did learn German that way, but no sooner had that happened than she left for Lund, Sweden, very pregnant, and went almost directly to the hospital, where I was delivered while my father looked for an apartment.  Mistaking the nurse’s query about anesthesia as an offer of a cup of coffee, she said yes and was put under. Big regrets about that! There were several other trips during my father’s sabbatical years – to Sweden again, to Germany, to Japan, Sweden again, to Israel/Palestine, to Nigeria, to England, but always returning to St. Peter, Minnesota.  So, we had a home to come back to, which was then a haven for remembering the good times around the world. Travel, and really immersing oneself in another culture, kept my mother, and our family very prone to exploring, and vaccinated against a too parochial a view of the world.

Maria Erling is a member of the YWCA Board of Directors.

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