Wishing you a sunny Spring week!
You will find something surprising on the Freedom Trail in Boston. Along this walk of historical buildings that date from the American Revolution is a memorial built only a few years ago. You round a corner, and here is what you see.
This is the New England Holocaust Memorial. It stands as an imposing tribute to hope. The idea for this was born of survivors of the Holocaust who live in Boston. They survived the camps with at least a tiny shred of hope intact, and they started over. They are successful in life, with families and businesses.
The designers wrote, “The memorial to darkness is built with light.” And so what you see and experience is the light through the glass walls. The 6 glass towers represent the 6 death camps in Poland during WWII.
On the soaring walls you see numbers etched in the glass — 6 million of them to represent all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. You walk through the glass, marveling at the sheer number of numbers.
My husband Curt snapped this photo of me at the memorial. I think I was torn between smiling for the photo and thinking that it’s a travesty to smile at such a sobering place. Yet we can smile at the hope this place represents.
Last week, a Commemoration was held at the memorial. The committee organizing this writes: “This year, we honor the strength and resiliency that enabled individuals to survive and rebuild lives of meaning, dignity and purpose. Their courage in bearing witness and transmitting memory to new generations sustains our commitment to remember the Holocaust for all time.”
I can’t begin to imagine the life of the survivors. But we can all honor them. We can learn from them. They show us a picture of hope and resiliency. We can cry for them and for the unfathomable sorrow of the Holocaust. We can smile because hope lived through the darkness and shines again in the light.
Photos are processed with the textures Lincoln and Braveheart from Nancy at A Rural Journal.
Have you ever wanted to hang on to the last light of the day?
In only a handful of minutes, shadows grew longer. Just a bit more daylight, the flowers seemed to say. No blazing sunset with oranges and reds decorated the sky. The day brought simply a slow fading across the blooms.
Sometimes we try so hard to hang onto the light. Dark circumstances come anyway. Night falls. But this is what we know. The morning will come again. The sunlight will shine. Today was just as filled with light as yesterday was. Joy comes in the morning.
We are in shock, mourning our lost. The young ones in school, learning about life, preparing for the years to come that now they will never have. Gone too soon. Teachers sheltering their students, giving their lives to protect them. A safe place invaded. Innocence lost.
How can we respond to this kind of darkness? We shed tears, we whisper prayers, we hug. We cry for the children. We cry for the grown-ups. We have no words to imagine what the families are going through, those who cherished these little angels more than life itself.
Some of the carols we sing have a dark side. Have you ever noticed the songs in a minor, sad key? The words that speak of troubles: “Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, throw cares away.” And “From now on our troubles will be miles away.” And “Tidings of comfort and joy.” If we need comfort, something is not quite right.
For now, the minor and major are mixed up together. The comfort and the joy are both part of our days.
We will have to search harder to find the light this year. We’ll have to look in the cracks around us to see slivers of it shining through. The good news is that light dispels the darkness, faint and hard to see as it may be. And we’ll see it when we cherish our family and friends. When we make the effort to brighten someone’s day. When we love as if there’s no tomorrow.
Have you ever been in the middle of a problem so daunting that life seems to spin out of focus?
I imagine it’s something like learning to play a keyboard. All the keys may look the same at first. It’s so confusing.
We see a long procession of black and white without form. It’s easy to understand how newcomers to the keyboard may see chaos. It may be hard to grasp even something simple like which way is down, which way is up.
Piano students start out not knowing anything more than that there are sure a lot of black keys and a lot of white keys. They say, “How will I ever make sense of this? How will I be able to play a song?”
As a teacher, I get to help students see patterns in the bewildering sea of notes.
Soon, the student sees more clearly. She may even notice the context of the keys: the burnished wood of the piano, the colored glass pieces handblown in Italy, the light streaming down on the music book.
Life can be chaotic. Sometimes we’re not even sure what’s up and what’s down. It’s all blurry. Then someone helps us begin to make sense of it. One sentence, one thought is presented, and we calm down. We can focus on one small part and see more clearly. We can step back and see the black times in the context of our lives. The light was there, streaming in, all the time. Eventually, the music rings out.
What about you? Who has helped you make sense of a chaotic time?
Linking up with This or That Thursdays, Sweet Shot Tuesdays, Communal Global, and Texture Tuesdays, where the theme this week is “Looking down.” Photos are edited with Kim Klassen’s textures Phoebe, Be Still, Sunday, and Evolve.
Here’s an approach to the new year that can color your days in a positive way. Choose one word that represents what you want to focus on. Then let that word shape your thinking day by day. Resolutions can be beneficial, but sometimes they turn out to be more discouraging than uplifting. They can feel like laws that need to be kept. Instead of making resolutions, the past few years, I’ve joined the one-word movement.
In 2011 my word was INTENTIONAL. Inspired by reading the bio of Dietrich Bonheoffer at the turn of the year, I wanted to cut down on the frittering away of my hours. By the end of the year I had started a blog, invested weekly hours in teaching piano students, memorized more Scripture than I would have otherwise, sang in a choir again, and enjoyed several trips with my husband — including my first camping trip in the mountains (in a thunderstorm!). I still fritter, but not nearly as much.
This year I’ve chosen the word BRIGHTEN. I want to go through my days looking for ways to brighten life for those around me. No matter what I’m doing, I want to cheer on others — my family, my friends, my coworkers, my neighbors, my students, the checker at the grocery store. For an introvert, this doesn’t usually come naturally. I’ll need to keep reminding myself to be a light.
BRIGHTEN is a verb, which means it’s something I’ll need to do, not just think about. It’s a worthwhile goal, I know, because in his message on the mountain long ago, Jesus told the people, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden . . . Let your light shine . . .”
This year in small moments of everyday life, I want to be that lighted city, brightening up the lives of others. I’ll try and I’ll fail, and I’ll succeed, too. I’m looking forward to actively looking for ways to shine.
The One Word 365 campaign is a group of people who have chosen one word to focus on for 2012. You’re welcome to participate! It’s amazing how one word will float to the top of your mind when you think about where you are in your life and what the coming year might have in store for you. You can participate whether or not you have a blog. Jump in. What have you got to lose?!