|Bonhoeffer, 26 years old, with some of his confirmands in 1932.|
Bonhoeffer had a twin sister, Sabine, with whom he exchanged many letters. As they were about to turn 25, in 1931, he was spending a year studying and traveling in the United States. His impressions of the intellectual tendencies and habits of American philosophy and theology students will come up in the next post, bleakly prophetic and serious as they are. For now, however, content yourselves with this meditation:
It's so unnerving for me that we really are going to be twenty-five now. . . . [I]f I were to imagine I had already been married for over five years, had two children, my own house, well, then I could feel fully justified turning twenty-five. . . . How I shall spend the day I do not quite know yet. Several people have learned of the date and are demanding we have a birthday party, which I would then give at the house of one of the married students. But perhaps I'll also find something nice at the theater. Unfortunately I can't even toast you with a glass of wine at this occassion, since it's forbidden by federal law; how frightfully tedious, this Prohibition in which no one believes. (114)Many people, especially those older than myself, pshaw my concerns away with a head toss and a hand wave when I say that here, at the age of 25, I begin to feel old. No doubt, if you are much older than I, this seems young. But certainly those my own age, and those younger, can understand the slight (or not so slight) sense of panic that sets in as, at a quarter of a century old, you look back and see if you have anything to show for your life. And they understand how that panic might be compacted if it seems that there is less to be proud of than there might have been, had you studied harder, worked more diligently, been friendlier, been less selfish, more pro-active, etc etc etc. But hey, at least our country wised up enough to put the kibosh on Prohibition so we can go out and have a proper celebration of what we have managed to accomplish. On second thought, let's stay in. Going out sounds like a lot of work.