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

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

The key…

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Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
Phillipians 2:1-4

Pure love, pure motive.

Don’t give in to the temptation to manipulate, positioning myself over or ahead of anyone else.
Don’t try to own it all and don’t try to take what belongs to someone else.

Listen for the whispers that instruct me and boldly take steps in the direction I am being led.
Cultivate my soil.
 That is the key to joy and contentment.

Nothing will be withheld from me.

Encourage others to own what they have been given.
Build up, cheer and affirm — wherever possible.

Understand that some rival because they are afraid.
Understand that sometimes — that might be me.

We weren’t made to self glory — we were made to reflect glory. 

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Photo art: kingabritschgi via Slowly Drifting

He wished me Spring

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Spring is the time of year when new life vibrates just beneath the surface of the ground.  The earth is warming and pulsing with life. Seeds are germinating and shafts of green are pushing up through the soil — stretching to receive light. The air is cool, dry and crisp. Birds flit about stealing dried bits to stuff into the small places where they will hide their young. Creatures emerge from their slumber to make the sounds that will build to create the symphony of summer.

Spring is also the time when my mother died. With the cool breeze comes the faint memory of the car ride to the memorial service. The sky was a crisp Colorado blue — the day was cruel in it’s beauty. With her, died everything I ever believed about the world. My personal world construct was shattered.  She was brutalized, her blood was spilled, and her heart stopped beating.
Her life was no more.

I think, if she could have voiced her last wish for me, it would be that I would have a chance — a chance to live a rich and abundant life, a life full of love, a life teeming with relationships.
She would have wished me Spring.

And Spring is when my stepmother died. With the sunshine that calls forth the buds on the trees, comes the memories of our drive to the funeral home and the flurry of decisions. We surrounded her bed as a family on the night she died, unaware that as we prayed to say goodbye, that she would really go. I awoke to the alarm, in the dark of the morning, and crept down the quiet hall to her room- it was time to slip the tiny white pill beneath her tongue to quell the anxiety. But when I got there, the weak heaving of her chest had stopped. But I couldn’t be sure — was she breathing? Her skin was cool — or was it? Should I wake my sleeping father to his dread? Could this be?
It was over.

I think, if she could have voiced her last wish for me, it would be that I would have a chance — a chance to live a rich and abundant life, a life full of love, a life teeming with relationships.
She would have wished me Spring.

And Spring is the time when we celebrate Easter. With the dyed eggs, and the grassy baskets, and the pretty dresses, come the memories of the cross and the horror of His passing. With the opening of the daffodils, I remember the day His life-giving blood was spilled in hatred. And with the rising of the sun, three days later, I remember that the stone was rolled away, and He rose.
But was He really alive? It made no sense.
Did they really see Him?
For Him, it wasn’t over.

He did voice His last wish- a wish that has been carried through the generations. He wished that I would have a chance — a chance to live a rich and abundant life, a life full of love, a life teeming with relationships.
Because of Him, I have access to it all.
He wished me Spring.

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Photo Credit:  Caroline Paulus
A late Easter post dedicated to a blogger in England who, tragically, just lost her son, and is suffering through unspeakable grief.
See her story at The Journey of My Left Foot (whilst remembering my son)
My Friend, He wishes you Spring…

authentic love

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Authentic love moves beyond self-centeredness and into unabashed and unhindered otherness.
It isn’t motivated by personal gain
and will not to be soiled by jaded expectations.
It is clean and expects nothing in return.

Authentic love is the spark that is the source of flame.
It’s the wind that moves the trees.
It’s the nudge that bids us go
and the pull that makes us stay.
It’s the fierce swell of the ocean waves
and the soft kiss of morning dew.
It’s the very essence of God.

 

But, not yet have I reached that bright life or that white happiness – not yet.

The snow is deep this morning in Indiana. We live in a rural setting, down a winding road and over a single lane bridge. There are no giant snow plows that take passes over our narrow, private road, just a kind neighbor who pushes a plow with his yellow jeep. While the rest of the world gets cleaned up and dirtied with slush, we manage to stay deep and white and quiet. I lit a candle and sipped my coffee as I opened David Kanigan’s blog post in my beautiful, white cathedral.

At 50-something I can see myself in the mirror with more clarity than ever before. There is no brand of make up and no amount charm that can cover the trails that I have left behind, and I hear solemn echoes that beckon me to live with abandon and heal with completion. There is a longing which is so deep and a desire which is so fundamental… I must not miss what matters most. My quest is constantly crippled by the battle with my habits and by the distractions I allow to come seeping into my world.

As Mary Oliver says, “I would like to be like the fox earnest in devotion and humor both, or the brave, compliant pond shutting its heavy door for the long winter. But, not yet have I reached that bright life or that white happiness – not yet.”
Read on:

Live & Learn

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Men and women of faith who pray – that is, who come to a certain assigned place, at definite times, and are not abashed to go down on their knees – will not tarry for the cup of coffee or the news break or the end of the movie when the moment arrives. The habit, then, has become their life. What some might call the restrictions of the daily office they find to be an opportunity to foster the inner life. The hours are appointed and named; they are the Lord’s. Life’s fretfulness is transcended. The different and the novel are sweet, but regularity and repetition are also teachers. Divine attentiveness cannot be kept casually, or visited only in season, like Venice and Switzerland. Or, perhaps it can, but then how attentive is it? And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple…

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Quietude

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Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along it’s hallowed courts the king in his beauty deigns to walk.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon
1834-1892

-Jan Karon, Patches of Godlight

Image- Sharla Eck