We eschewed the Autobahn to meander through the forest in the direction of Kladow. I was daydreaming in the summer dusk when Kristina spotted a sign and forked a sharp right. Tree-lined roads took us to a pull-off, and we walked through the gate and along the water until we spotted the Heilandskirche beyond the tall grass, protuding into the Havel.
This little church was built in 1844 and damaged in World War II. After Berlin was divided in 1961, it lay directly on the border between East and West Berlin; the bell tower was incorporated into the Wall. Restoration work, commenced in the mid-1980s, began in earnest after 1989.
On that summer evening, we shared the view with two distant fishermen. A party of merry-makers drifted along the other bank, tinny music sounding across the water. I examined the reeds, the light, then the tiles.
Names and dates spanning a century were scratched into the ceramic surfaces; I'd never seen anything like it. All the history of Berlin seemed alive in the inscriptions: 1953, 1940, 1938, 1911, 1992, 1936, 2010.
The doors were locked so I couldn't peek into the minimalist interior of the church. I won't be in town this Sunday, but if I were, I would be very tempted to make my way back in the afternoon for a concert of baroque Italian chamber music, beginning at 3pm.
By the time we returned to the car, the sky was gray. We were quiet on the drive home. The Havel flashed past; the Vattenfall power station emerged in the distance.