The Schleitheim monument commemorates the first effort between Anabaptists to create an agreement about beliefs they all shared in common, in order to create greater unity within the movement. The agreement dates back to 1527, just two years after the Anabaptist movement began! The Schleitheim monument is located in a beautiful meadow of tall grass and wildflowers high on a Swiss hill.
As we stood in the welcoming sunshine at the monument this morning, I watched butterflies flitting among the vegetation. And I considered current efforts similar to those which became the Schleitheim agreement: such as Mennonite World Conference, a non-governing body which encourages an understanding of a shared theology as it works to create community and solidarity among all churches with Anabaptist roots. Even after all these years, there is still value in finding unity amongst our widespread denomination, despite the differences we may have in our beliefs and practices.
This afternoon we climbed another hill, but though this morning’s climb was accomplished easily by sitting in a wagon pulled by a tractor, this afternoon’s relied on our own feet. As a result, some of the group decided they would not visit the Anabaptist Cave.
Those who chose not to hike were hosted for a relaxing time in a Reformed church in Bäretswil, and I gather they had a lovely visit. I was happy to make the climb, however. It was a beautiful sunny day and our hike took us up a route that first gave us incredible views over the valley, and then took us through a peaceful forest until at last, we reached the cave.
In the cave we first explored our surroundings–and yes, I went to the very back of the cave where it lowered, with my phone’s flashlight turned on, so that I could see all of it. Alas, I didn’t find any secret passages!
And then we rested on the benches placed in the cave and talked. First, we talked about our Anabaptist ancestors who traveled long distances to be able to worship together in secret at this cave. But the conversation moved on to our modern context, as we discussed what we are doing and what needs to be done to advance the cause of peacemaking today. How can the dedication of our ancestors inspire us to greater efforts?
We ended this very meaningful time of conversation by singing a couple of songs. I couldn’t recall all the words to the hymns we sang, but I was glad to join my voice with my fellow pilgrims regardless.
The walk back down from the cave took much less time than going up, and soon we were reunited with the rest of our group.
And as we drove into Zurich for the night, I thought about how all of us traveling together on this tour are becoming a community of people who care about each other, despite our differences.
– Morgan Regehr