A Tour of Yad Vashem

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Photo and caption taken from the Yad Vashem website

 

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum looks like a long pod. Visitors begin the journey at one end — pre-Hitler — then work their way to the other end —
through volumes of devastation.

Our tour begins in an open theatre;
Floor to ceiling moving pictures set to music;
Depictions of happy times for the Jewish people;
children playing — as children do.

Through window panes, we spied fine clocks and furnishings,
families enjoying tea
and music,
and mothers smiling — as mothers do.

Along the bottom of the screen,
a tiny, plump bird hopped along, pecking at seed in the snow.
A small representation of sweetness and life.

As we moved down the hall of the museum, we came forward in history,
through pictures, video testimonies, and artistic expressions,
depicting the eventual crushing of the Jewish culture.
The humiliation,
the torture,
and the murder
of six million Jewish people,

Six million,
not counting those not counted.

The fragile little bird disappeared.
The most profoundly simple,
stolen away.

There was an immense pile of old, worn shoes…
the shoes of the dead.

Movies recorded the faces of the men who had joined together
to burn books written by Jewish authors.
While there was no sound,
the message was still loud.
Men jeered and laughed, self-righteously.
Others worked as if on a critical mission — as if they were doing community service.
They could have been any men.
Their faces were not unusual.
They were sure and proud and cruel.

Hitler planted small ideas, full of hate,
and men allowed them to grow.
They fed the ideas their agreement,
and the most evil thing in history happened.

The Nazis lined naked women and children along the edge of a pit, to shoot them, and watch them fall.

The ground was filled with the bones of suffering.
Shoes and gold teeth, and rings, and wares, were piled in great heaps —
Now on display,
as a testimony of grief.

Further inside, 3D models of the gas chambers and stories of the smoke stacks.

But, we know that ashes make the ground fertile,
And even in this horror,
the enemy did not prevail.

Yad Vashem provides not only a historical tour, a place to remember,
and to honor the dead,
but it also paints a portrait of what hatred
looks like on the face of the mocking mobs,
and how dangerous it can be, left to grow unchecked.
The Holocaust provides us with the most graphic example of all time.

All hatred is leveled opposition to God Almighty;
and there is none that is a special breed.
Never a more justified pill than hatred gets swallowed.

Isaiah 58
“If you do away with (or stop, or fast from), the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, (stop condemning and shaming others),  and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your
night will become like the noonday.
… But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him…”

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On, January 27, 2016, Holocaust Memorial Day,  this post was pulled from a journal entry I wrote while visiting Israel in 2007, with Dr. Susan Watson of John 17 Ministries. While in Israel, Dr. Susan revealed the contrast between the men who adopted Nazi hatred- which led to death and destruction, and Jesus, who by staying focused on God’s will, poured out healing and transforming love, even in the face of ridicule, shame, and abuse. The greatest love and the greatest hate,  played out on the stage, which is Israel, starring the beloved Jewish people.
John chapter 17

the time has come…

 

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The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

“New Year Resolve”
written by May Sarton, from Collected Poems, 1930-1993

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Thank you to David Kanigan for sharing May Sarton’s , “New Year Resolve,” which, according to his blog post, Kanigan discovered back in 2012, on another blog entitled,  Waiting for the Karma Truck, who’s author says she found it on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac … and on and on.

As seekers, we pass collections of words,
like light with form,
like precious contraband,
from palm to palm,
sipping carefully,
then gulping desperately,
as we discover the taste of truth.

In these words, I see my reflection as “old age silts in the stream,”
and ask, can I stop here?
Can I stop to pull off the sticky, infectious urgencies that threaten to smother me?
Can I finally release what I grip so tightly in my shaking hand —
those small and powerful things which envelop me in shadow?
Can I bring in the quiet, which sits “shivering” and starving
and begging,
“on the mat” just outside my door?

Happy New Year to me,
and to you, my friends.
God help us all, as we strive to live alive.
May we leap that we might fly.

in the shadows of every soul…

Haunting and beautiful… in the shadows of every soul

 

Iceland’s Solstafir Seeks Salvation In Sublimely Shot ‘Miðaftann’

December 16, 2015 by LARS GOTRICH • The sweeping beauty of Solstafir’s music comes from a place of pain and restoration, but it wasn’t always that way. With 2014’s Ótta, the Icelandic black-metal band fully and gracefully transitioned to atmospheric rock. One of the album’s best songs, “Miðaftann,” sounds somber and haunting without guitars or drums — just piano, strings, a little Rhodes and Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s desperate vocals, sung in his native tongue.”The song is about wandering in darkness,” Tryggvason writes, “playing chess with Death, getting burned by salt, drowning in the ultimate wave of sin and returning back home by using moonlight as navigation.”Harri Haataja and Vesa Ranta direct this gorgeous video, which they shot mostly in black and white amid the stark, sublime landscape of Iceland. They say they were inspired by the lyrics to show a man at his end, literally waving a white flag as he seeks salvation.”They told us a real-life story about a sailor who lost his crew at sea and was stranded to shore as the only survivor,” the directors write.” He proceeded to find his way to town and [along the way] he found a barrel filled with water. But the water was frozen, so he had to punch through the ice with his bare hands to fight the dehydration. Eventually, after a long journey, he found his way to town and survived.”Ótta is out now on Season Of Mist.
Source: NPR Music

the colors of autumn…

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Autumn is gold,
and amber,
and umber and cool.
It’s red and yellow,
spattered with green,
Like oils,
Like acrylics,
Like rust.

Contrast upon contrast,
like stones in the water,
like Indian stones in the water.
Like painted rocks on the shore.

Layer upon layer,
like wet, Indiana clay,
like red, Oklahoma soil,
like the straw plains in Wyoming.

It’s the sound of the crows and the rustle of the leaves.
It’s a plodding animal in the woods,
like a deer,
like a man,
like a squirrel in autumn,
Thunderfoot.

It’s the wind…
She laces her way through dry branches,

ushering the leaves to let go,
forcing them to set sail,
like a mother,
like a thief,
like a captain.

Yellow sailors take the helm,
tacking back and forth,
upon the shifting air,
like dancers,
like feathers,
like snowflakes,
unto the littered ground.

The dry, straw ground,
covered with nuts,
and sticks, and fallen leaves,
which ruffle into earthy piles. 
Piles to be tapped by the rain.
and rustled by the breeze,
like strings,
like fairy drums,
like dreams.

The flowers, once pink,
and purple
and red,
now brown,

beautiful Indian brown,
now gone to seed, ruddy crisp.
like splinters,
like brown wrens,
like bark,
bouncing lightly to the sound of Autumn.

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quick thoughts before the sun goes down.
must the sun go down?

I want to live alive…

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Yesterday, I smuggled a four pack of Cabernet, a dark, salty chocolate bar, and a couple of wine glasses into the hospital to visit my friend, who is battling cancer. She was delighted that I actually did the brazen thing she suggested, and we proceeded to spent the cold, drizzly afternoon in her private room, talking about the past, the present and the future.

As we sat sipping wine and nibbling chocolate, we shared some painful things and asked some big questions, which neither of us have the answers for. She has decided to stop the chemo treatments — unless the next specialist tells her that a significant amount of time will be added to her life, if she will endure another round.  She hasn’t given up — she just wants to trust God for the outcome.

She doesn’t want to live sick. She wants to live alive.
She is making plans for whatever time is left — who to see and what to do — whether there are many days and years left— or few.

She is brave and new. Her hair is maybe a 1/4 inch long all over her head and she sits bold and braless, laughing out loud in her hospital bed. She is forced to stay there until she is safe to move, for fear of dislodging a huge blood clot looming just under her rib cage. She is as human as a human can be, there is no pretense — and she is gorgeous.

Her face is all I can see today — our hearts are connected and I am in constant prayer. I find myself looking over the landscape of my life. How would I spend my last days? I want to live alive.

I would make my last days lovely for my family
I would light all the candles and bring all the flowers in.
I would saturate the air with beautiful music.

I would stop.
I would stop and listen.

I would wear expressions that penetrate the skin and make their way to the soul.
I would look long into the eyes of those I love and they would experience acceptance.
They would remember and know how they are valued and treasured.
I would give meaningful hugs — like the one I got when I left the hospital yesterday.

I would eat food around the table, laughing with those I love.
I would know that sharing a meal together is sacred.
I would not rush away.

I would understand that things are things.
They are only precious when they are a part of our traditions.

I would savor.
I would not gulp.
My actions and activities would have meaning.

My bed would be luscious.
I would have very few clothes in my closet.
I would not worry about what I look like —
I would worry more that I might miss moments pretending to be pretty,
and neat,
and all put together.

I would learn to breathe what is.
I would not to dwell on what isn’t.

I would forgive.
I would ask forgiveness of those I have hurt and rejected.
I would forgive those that have hurt and rejected me.
I would see the pain that motivates the walking wounded.
I would look through all the contorted manifestations,
and I would find the wounds,
and touch them with God’s love.

But.
In my last days, would I forgive myself?
Would I go to the pain that motivates me?
Would I look with grace upon my own contorted manifestations?
Would I allow God’s love to permeate and heal what hurts deep inside?
Would I do that in my last days?

Could I do that today?

 

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Photo by: Eugene Nikiforov

It’s always been you…

 

I’m still perplexed,
in awe, really,
that you would long for me so.
That after all my failings,
you would still wish,
more than anything,
for my time and attention to be yours.
All yours.

Now, as my smooth places are not as sleek,
and my buttery, soft skin, not as supple…
Now, when pretty flirtations don’t light up my dark brown eyes,
How is it that that you still pursue me with such desire?

How is it that I can often be satisfied to find your naked toes in the sheets,
but that you always burn to find every inch of me.
You.
You prefer our place under the covers to any high place on earth.
You would clear away any obstacle just to whisper to me quietly.

You.
How you work tirelessly to meet my every need.
How, for all these years, you will deny yourself anything,
to be sure that I have everything.
How you sweat, and fix, and conquer, for the small favor of my high regard.

How can the world send young women to chase after sleek imitations,
with hair and whiskers disarranged just sexily so,
When there’s you?
Girls chasing dreams of fictitious enigmas, which they compare to the bleak, unfulfilling every day.
The bleak, wondrous love I enjoy
every day.

You.
Are there more like you?

You, in the end,
When all the rugged chase is over.
You are my dream come true.
With all your faults and shortcomings, pressed closely against all my finally revealed self…

You.
The faithful warmer in my bed.
You.
The one who has never left my side.
You.
The one who knows just how to lay, so I can wrap my arm around to tuck my hand just so.

You, my dream come true.
The one who loves me,
one step down from God.

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Photo credit: Days Gone By

 

Keep me quiet…

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I have risen early. Far in the distance, a faint glow paints the horizon. Dawn is coming, gently and full of prayer. I step quietly from my bed, alive to the silences around me. This is the quiet time, the time of innocence and soft thoughts, the childhood of the day. Now is the moment when I must pause and life my heart – now, before the day fragments and my consciousness shatters into a thousand pieces. For this is the moment when the senses are most alive, when a thought, a touch, a piece of music can shape the spirit and color of the day. But if I am not careful – if I rise, frantic, from my bed, full of small concerns- the mystical flow of the imagination at rest will be broken, the past and the future will rush in to claim my mind, and I will be swept up into life’s petty details and myriad obligations. Gone will be the openness that comes only to the waking heart, and with it, the chance to focus the spirit and consecrate the day. What is needed is only a passing of the heart so the spirit can take wing and be lifted toward the infinite. I walk silently toward the window. The darkness is lifting. A thin shaft of lavender has creased the horizon, setting the edges of the trees on fire with morning light. I pause and bow my head…

Kent Nerburn, Small Grace: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life

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Thank you David Kanigan at Live and Learn for sharing this beautiful piece (via Make Believe Boutique).
Image: Touch Contagious