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

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

 

Your life, your signature…

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“Despite overall similarities, each nest identifies it’s maker as surely as an artist’s signature”
Maryjo Koch

 Mommy… Did you know that your nest bears your signature?
When you stand back, what do you see?
I remember the days when my children were small.
My girlfriend would come over with her little battalion of boys
and I would make a pile of french toast.

The children would dress up and run barefoot in the grass.
They would make mud balls in the puddles.
There was laughter.
It wasn’t always neat, but it was always pretty.
It wasn’t expensive, but it was enough.
My nest was full of life.

What does your nest say about your life?
Is there music?
Does a candle flicker, adding a glow to your kitchen?
Have you taken your little one out to plant a seed?
Is there laughter?
Do you have time to drink it in?
Do you find yourself crying tears that flow from a pool of gratitude and love?

Who cares if it gets a little messy, just make sure it’s pretty.
Blanket forts are pretty.
Children in footy pajamas, surrounded by piles of books —
That’s pretty.
The mess of life —
That’s neat.

Or is the place in front of the television,
or the iPad in the lap,
or the phone in the hand — is that stuff of your day?
They will remember
and may become too dull to care.
Don’t allow entertainment to smother the life and creativity out of your children.

Take your little one out to watch the hopping robins tug worms out of the soft ground.
Take them out to pick daffodils and teach them to rub the soft petals on their cheeks.
Help them find the tiny buds that line the branches of spring.
Light a candle and use the fancy tea cups.
Write your signature with flare.
Today won’t come again.

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Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest,
via Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan
Photo credit: Julie Falk 

What do you come home for?

While this video is two years old, and while it has been viewed nearly a million times, and while it may present a few opinions that not all would agree with, and while this may not be everyone — I find that it haunts and astounds me in it’s presentation of reality.
As I prepare to grow vegetables in my garden, I am struck by the lack of dirt— the lack of the organic — that I see in the video. It makes me think of how, in the suburbs, we press the button on our automatic garage door openers, glide in, and close the door behind us —  sealing ourselves off in our homes for the night.
For me, the video captures some kind of collective groan.

 

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I saw the video: What is Wrong with Our Culture, Alan Watts, on the Collective Evolution Facebook page.

Stories Matter

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The past beats inside me like a second heart.”
― John Banville, The Sea

We are swimming in a sea of selfies and Instagram photos. Our history is being recorded on cell phones and our stories are being told in clever hashtags. Pictures are rarely printed- we simply release them into the cloud with zillions of bits, perhaps never to be seen again.

Our fine moments run together like ingredients in a recipe. At first, it is easy to see that the egg is separate from the flour and the milk from the oil – but with a few quick turns of the wooden spoon, a gloppy mass forms in the bowl- and it goes in the oven- come what may.
We bake the batter of life.

Pictures, journals and stories help us to extract the ingredients and understand the flavors — they unravel the mystery and tell us why one loaf tears like leather and the other like cotton.
Why one loaf is savory and the other sweet.
Why one loaf is dry and the other is doughy.

Stories matters. As mothers and fathers in the digital age, we must do something old fashioned and print the photos stored on our phones and in our hard drives. We must scribble a few sentences about our moments. Not “Children’s Museum, 2015”, but rather, “He never wanted to leave the water table- he played with the dam system for hours,”

Because lo and behold, he is now an engineer.

“Experience had taught me that even the most precious memories fade with the passage of time.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding

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Quotes from: Goodreads
I
mage from JoAnne Ouellette, The New Curriculum Arithmetics, Copyright 1935

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.

 

Defy Nature

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In Matthew chapter 14 Jesus learns that John the Baptist, the one who had known his purpose,  even in the womb — had been viciously murdered. John and Jesus shared a special connection — they were purposed and were purposeful.

Jesus responded to this news by climbing into a boat and heading off to a place to be alone, but when the word spread that he might be within reach, he was followed by people in the nearby villages. Jesus could see them gathering and walking along the lakeshore and he was overcome with compassion. In all his grief — in his probable state of frustration and anger — Jesus still chose to give way to compassion, to engage and to heal crowds.

John’s senseless death only served to propel him forward.
Jesus so emptied himself of fear, hatred, and rage — he so surrendered — that the force of love yielded miraculous results.
That kind of infused love that changes everything.
He healed the sick and miraculously fed the 5000 men, women, and children that had gathered near the shore.

After Jesus dismissed the crowds, he sent his disciples off in the boat and climbed up the mountainside to be alone and pray. When he came down, just before dawn, the boat was a good distance away from shore in rough waves. Defying nature, Jesus walked on water to reach the boat.

All this…  just after the loss of John. The event could have shut him down.
He could have given up or given way, but the circumstances only proved to strengthen him. He hadn’t traded his faith for fear or unbelief.
What was it like that day as he took to the water?
Was there a gentle breeze that touched his face?

He was able to empty himself, listen, and receive the sustenance he needed to survive not only his own grief, but to pour out unfathomable love.

That’s the kind of pure love I want — the kind that banishes all that I could — and maybe should — feel.
The kind that overcomes my rights, my propensities, and my self consciousness.
The kind that defies nature and encourages miracles.

help me see past my feeble eyes.

thank you, God…

to know all you knew — and still press in — whoa.
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Photo by House and Garden