At Trachselwald Castle, we found a party. Accordion music, a chocolate fountain with fruit to dip, and a market in the castle square where vendors sold cheeses, handcrafted wares, and wine.
If I hadn’t known what was in the tower above, all this levity would have seemed like a fairy tale, like what I’d imagined I’d enjoy in Europe. But the tower was up there, and we climbed up and up and up, circling on narrow stone steps, sometimes almost as steep as a ladder.
When we arrived at the top, the mood changed. Steps slowed, voices muted, and faces became guarded. We shivered in the dark, cold stone cells. And I tried to imagine being held prisoner, lying on the hard wooden bed while I wondered if morning would bring torture or death or both.
Across the hall was the torture chamber. Sobered by the ball and chain and a device to swing prisoners in circles, I was most gripped with the hole in on the torture shelf. It was needed for bowels that loosened during twisting tortures. I stood silent, my own insides churning with these thoughts.
In the hall outside the torture chamber were signatures of other Anabaptists who had come to pay honor to those who suffered here for faith. We found the names of people we knew. And we added our names.
But then I noticed other signatures. . These had been carved into stone, not pressed easily into wood with a pen. These signatures took what prisoners had—time.
We wound back down the steep stone steps, back down to the accordion music and chocolate and cheese and wine.
And as we left the castle, I thought about how often I have partied while others mourn.