They blew in like the wind and stopped just long enough to let us know which town they had come from, and a little about their recent journey. One had been traveling for a year and the other a few weeks.
We met them in the market square of Freiburg, Germany dressed in the required black coats, top hats, collarless shirts, and they carried a sack of all their belongings. ALL of their belongings. Locals know them as traveling journeymen, Geselle, that follow cultural tradition that has out-lasted wars, and even modern technology. The Lehring, apprentices, travel the country, usually on foot, in search of apprenticeships with the Meisters.
Their commitment is simple. Hmmm, maybe simplistic is a better word. To become a traveling journeyman, one must be unmarried, without children, without debt, and commit 3 years and 1 day to the journey. There are no resumes or cell phones and work must be a 50 km radius from home. They approach innkeepers, and rap on the doors of known tradesmen, with an expectation that they will receive only room and board for work, the apprenticeship, and the knowledge that comes with it.
With no money in their pockets they define what it means to be rich in character. Their journeys have made them alive with laughter, resilience, creativity, and the stories that go with it, so it isn’t unusual to hear them entertaining folks in restaurants or bars for a meal. And then….with a snap, the breeze carries them away to another town, another job, another chapter.
Ya know…sometimes life is about people you meet along the way.
The Daily Post: Apprentice