A Short Reflection on Edelweiss
If you’ve travelled you know how exciting it can be. New sights and smells abound, from the wildlife to the night life, from the music to the food. There are so many unexpected wonders that come with experiencing another place, another culture. It’s almost like going to another world. But at some point you return to that familiar place, that place where you belong—home.
And perhaps all at once you realize something. Home feels different. You notice for the first time what makes your home so unique, the things you took for granted before. You realize how special home really is.
The song "Edelweiss" appears in the Broadway musical The Sound of Music. The von Trapp Family Singers perform it on stage in front of a crowd of their fellow Austrians. It’s a song about a flower, yes, but it represents something more. It’s a celebration of home. Home in general and the homeland of Austria in particular. "Edelweiss" is a simple song, which is probably why I know it by heart. I always assumed it was a genuine Austrian folk song but it isn’t. It was composed for the 1959 musical. And yet this simple melody captures something deep and true. Having a good home is a blessing. It’s a place of comfort and safety. It’s somewhere to rest and relax, somewhere you know you can go to be refreshed, loved, and built up. There’s nowhere else like it.
As The Sound of Music nears its conclusion, the von Trapps prepare to make their exit. They sing "Edelweiss" and a number of other songs to an admiring audience and receive a standing ovation. No one in the crowd suspects, however, what is about to happen next. The von Trapps are going to leave their beloved homeland, which has been taken over by the Nazis. Austria is no longer the country they know and love. It has become something else entirely, somewhere they are no longer welcome. The von Trapps make the painful decision to remain loyal to their real home, "the true Austria," which so many of their neighbours have forgotten.
It’s often in leaving home that you realize how valuable home is. You see it for what it is, and how it suits you so well. Perhaps not all of us have a good place to call home. Not all of us know where we’ll find it. The song "Edelweiss" gives voice to a hope, a prayer almost, for wholeness and fulfillment. Its hope is that someday we will be restored and blessed once more with a place we all seek—a place to belong.
David Raphael Hilder
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