A day that is all about love…
But what is love?
Lots of things! Romantic love, parental love, sibling love, the love of family and friends…even workmates!
May your Valentine’s Day include all of these and more!
And then there is the kind of love that loves in the face of every reason to feel tempted not to love. Following up on a recent blog – Emerging from under the shadow of the Holocaust – my three transitional moments – I want to share a couple of examples of this kind of love in action: (1) an excerpt from a moving article posted this weekend by Red Letter Christian leader Tony Campolo and (2) a note that was posted in response to that earlier blog.
In his post – Leaving Auschwitz in Love – Reverend Campolo tells how he continuously tests himself against the wise words of St. Francis of Assisi “Where there is hatred, let me sow love”. He then gives what he rightly describes as an encouraging example of someone he met who passes the St. Fancis test with flying colours. At a meeting with Auschwitz survivors he asked how they react when they hear someone with a German accent…
One of the men answered, “I was just a boy when they put me, along with my family, into a cattle car in a city in France and started us on the long journey to Auschwitz. We had no water and we had no food, but each night the train would stop and sit still for hours. Time and time again, after hours had passed, there would be German people who would sneak out of the forest, come up to the sides of the cattle cars and push in between the slats of the car small containers of water and bits of food. Their generosity kept me alive. What they did was done at great risk. So—whenever I hear someone with a German accent, I say to myself, ‘Could that be the child or the grandchild of one of those who dared to help me in my time of need?’ Then I smile at them inevitably.”
That is, indeed, an extraordinary example of sowing seeds of love where hatred might seem to be logical! And what of family members who lost loved ones as a result of the Holocaust? In response to my blog – as re-posted on his own blog site by my Australian counterpart Daryl Francis – an American commenter shared her experience (edited here for clarity):
Thank you, Tony for your thorough description of your feelings, and how it
was you were able to find the logical answers to a very persistent, long-standing
problem of fear and prejudice.
My grandparents were eliminated in the Holocaust, and so I never met them. They were Dutch Jews, trapped in the Netherlands.
However my father found Christian Science when he was sick from tuberculosis in the USA and a woman came up to his place to read to him from Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. He later told my mother (who was his fiance at the time), “Can you imagine…here I am with TB and all she could do was read to me from a book about prayer!” But the logic and the [spiritual] Truth from this Bible-based book must have touched his thought, because he was healed and later became a devoted Christian Scientist.
Over the years, although my father raised his children to forgive and to realize that such things can happen in any country when people are not alert, I would cringe when I heard anyone with a German accent. Over the years, however, whenever I would encounter German people who came into my life they impressed me over and over – a warm and generous woman who married my cousin (there’s a Jew and a German story!); or people who have done exceptional things for our family, and then I’d find out they were German; or I watched how wonderfully resourceful and generously planet-caring a country that Germany can be.
Finally, I read a poem in the Christian Science Sentinel (July 7, 2003, by Pam Chance) who spoke of realizing how many people “on the other side” must have suffered and been courageous. Her poem healed me of my life-long fear and prejudice, and I am free at last to go to Germany if I choose and recognize God’s loving expressions as [being independent of] nationality or race.
Thank you again for reinforcing my feelings as yet another who knows only God’s caring, penetrating Love, dissolving hatred in every generation.
And, finally, below is the poem mentioned, by Pam Chance – our Committee on Publication for West Yorkshire. Please click on the pages to enlarge and read the words…