This morning I went to see my twelve year old granddaughter perform in the operetta, Brundibar. I went to see her dance and sing. I went to applaud for this talented young girl that I love. I was not prepared to watch a show that tore my heart out. Brundibar is the powerful story about children of the Holocaust. It is a story of horror and fear. It is also the story of hope , survival and triumph. This morning's show was divided into two parts. During the first half the children read poems written by children who had lived in Terezin, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. The set was the dark walls of the camp. The young performers looked gaunt and hungry. Poem after heart-wrenching poem was recited. At the conclusion of the first half the audience set in stunned silence. Applause seemed inappropriate after what we had just heard.
Today the ghetto knows a different fear, Close in its grip, Death wields an icy scythe. An evil sickness spreads a terror in its wake, The victims of its shadow weep and writhe. Today a father's heartbeat tells his fright And mothers bend their heads into their hands. Now children choke and die with typhus here, A bitter tax is taken from their bands. My heart still beats inside my breast While friends depart for other worlds. Perhaps it's better – who can say? – Than watching this, to die today? No, no, my God, we want to live! Not watch our numbers melt away. We want to have a better world, We want to work – we must not die!
Eva Picková, 12 years old
The second half of the performance was the operetta Brundibar. It is the story of children who overcome the evil organ-grinder, Brundibar. They win a victory over this evil man who is obviously Hitler. The show was performed fifty-five time in Terezin. At the conclusion of today's performance the girl who had played the role of the cat went into the audience and returned with an older lady who joined in the concluding victory song. This woman with sparkling eyes and a great smile sang the song in Czech. As a young girl she had been in all fifty-five performances of Brundibar. Of the 15,000 children under the age of thirteen to go to Terezin, she is one the 100 who survived. When this woman happily joined today's young performers I cried. This woman has survived horror with a vivacious spirit of hope.
After the show I purchased a book she had written about her life. She signed it for me. Her inscription reads, “Remember me and my friends” Remembering is important.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Christian. I am overwhelmed at God's amazing love and grace. I see God in the life of Jesus and try to live my life by the example of how Jesus lived. When I see people behave in hateful, selfish, and judgmental ways in the name of Christ I become sad and angry. Some folks who call themselves Christian seem to have missed the meaning of “God is Love.” Jesus says to be merciful and to seek peace. He commands us to love both our neighbors and our enemies. He tells us not to judge others while ignoring the sins in our own lives. When a woman caught in adultery is brought to him, Jesus treats her with gentleness and rebukes the self-righteous trouble-makers who brought her to him. Jesus befriended sinners and told them about God's love and mercy. Jesus became angry with church leaders who were so interested in making people obey a list of rules that they forgot love, mercy and gentleness. They forgot that God's name is Love.
Recently I have seen people yell ugly epitaphs at others. In the name of Christ they yell through bull horns and make hate filled signs. They throw rocks and even kill other people because they do not agree with them . These folks have judged people by their own narrow, closed-mined interpretation of scripture and found others guilty. They seem to think that ,“Judge not,” does not apply to them. I suppose I too am being judgmental here of those who have a list of “bad” sins that they deem to be worse than their own. It just makes me so sad. When I say I am a Christian I want to explain that these hate filled folks do not represent me. They do not represent the God of love that I see in Jesus.
The way I understand it, Christianity is not so much about keeping a set of rules as it is relying on the amazing grace of God. Christianity is loving God with all my heart and soul, and loving my neighbor as myself.
This morning several friends were laughing about our escapades with mice. This is my mouse story.
I was large with child, about a week before the birth of my second daughter. Shortly before bedtime I went into the kitchen to ice a cake I had baked earlier in the day. My husband was in the bedroom getting ready for bed when he heard me scream. He came running into the kitchen, wearing only his white briefs to see what had caused my shriek. I was pointing to the corner of the cabinet yelling, “Mouse! There's a mouse behind my cookbooks.” Being my brave knight, minus the shining armor, he quickly put a table leaf across the doorway into the living room to confine the scary creature and told me to wait in the living room. He then grabbed the fly swatter, crept to corner, flung the books out of the way and swatted at the mouse. The quick-footed mouse ran, leapt over the carefully placed barrier and ran straight toward me. I climbed into a chair and the mouse ran down the hall and into the linen closet. Standing up in our rocking chair I pointed toward the closet as my brave husband chased after the mouse. He carefully opened the closet, but could not see the critter. There was blanket lying on the floor which the mouse was obviously cowering under. With fly swatter at ready he quickly reached in, flung the blanket out of the closet and swatted with a mighty swing at the empty closet floor. The mouse had crawled into the folds of the blanket. Mouse and blanket were now flying straight at me and I was screaming. The stunned mouse hit the floor and seemed to hesitate. The hesitation was just long enough for my mighty hunter to hit him with the fly swatter. The mouse went to its great reward and my husband went to bed. When I went again to try to ice the cake I noticed a corner was missing and little foot prints trailed across the cake. I threw out the cake knowing my little mouse had gone to heaven with a tummy full of yummy chocolate cake.
My fellow blogger Paul sent out a challenge to write about five random words selected by him. I decided it would be an interesting exercise and accepted his challenge.
The five words he assigned are holiday, satisfaction, mark, encourage, and proof. I tried to use them in a sentence, but they just don't seem to go together very well. I came up with things like, “It is a mark of the holiday that it it encourages satisfaction and gives proof to its meaning.” Or maybe, “The holiday marks a proof that encourages us to satisfaction.” These sentences did not satisfy me, so I was encouraged to write about each word individually to mark their meaning with more proof. The effort does not feel like a holiday.
A holiday is a special day set aside to remember and honor someone or something. There are religious holidays. Those of us who are Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter to honor Christ and celebrate the good news that Christ has given us. There are national holidays like Fourth of July and Veterans Day that let us celebrate the pride we feel because we are Americans and to honor those who have helped to defend our country. My favorite holiday combines both our faith and our patriotism. Thanksgiving is an American holiday that gives citizens of all faiths the opportunity to stop and give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings we have in this nation. For the past several years we have attended in inter-faith service on the eve of Thanksgiving. We celebrate together the blessings of being Americans. The rabbi, the imam, and the minister and many congregants from various faith traditions share our patriotism and thanksgiving together. It is a moving, meaningful time. Of course my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the love, laughter, and lavish banquet that our family and friends share around our big table.
What is your favorite holiday?
I think of satisfaction as that sense of fulfillment and pleasure that comes after finishing a task. Sometimes it is just a small pleasure like the one that comes when you put the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. It is so satisfying to see the completed picture. Sometimes it is a bigger sense of gratitude and joy. I think of the Christmas night long ago when I was lying with my little boy as he fell asleep. He kept repeating the list of good things that had happened that day. He'd say,”Big firetruck,” and just smile. Then he would say, “New books”, and smile some more. Finally he said, “Mommy, I'm happy.” I lay there by him overwhelmed with a deep satisfaction knowing that the day had been perfect for this child of mine. When I was working I would face a huge pile of charts that had to be dealt with each day. Sometimes the pile was nearly as tall as me. There was a very tired sense of satisfaction that came at the end of the day as I filed away the last chart and I knew I had completed the day's tasks.
What is something that brings you satisfaction?
There are multiple meanings for this word, but for me I think of Mark as a name.There is Mark, the writer of the second book in the New Testament. He was the first person to write about the life of Jesus. Matthew, Luke and John looked to Mark when they wrote their books. I have a good friend named Mark. Our families grew up together. We have shared a lot of life. My daughter's sweetheart is named Mark. He is an important part of her life which makes him an important part of my life. He is a good man.
All of the Marks in my life have left a mark on me. Is there a Mark in your life?
To encourage is to fill someone with the courage they need to continue on. It is a bit like being someone's personal cheerleader.
I observed an excellent example of how to encourage in the locker room at the pool recently. A swim class for young children had just dismissed, and mothers were bringing their little ones into the locker room to get them into dry clothes. I cringed at the dialogue between one mom and her child. The little boy was crying as his mother berated him. She said, “I paid good money for this class and you wouldn't even try. You're just a worthless scaredy-cat. You embarrassed me with all your crying.” Another mom came in with her child and I heard her say something entirely different. “You were so brave out there! You almost put your face in the water. I bet next week you will be even braver than you were this week.” The child stood tall and smiled at his mom's praise and encouragement.
Which child do you think will learn to swim first?
Who has been an encourager in your life?
This word is not proving itself easy for me to write about. Proof is like evidence in a legal proceeding to convince the jury that something is or is not true. It is a good thing to have a lot of proof before convicting a person of some awful deed. I do like to find proof to back up what I believe, but I think I live mostly on emotion and instinct and don't need too much evidence if it all feels right. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing, but it is just the way I am.
Do you need a lot of proof about something to decide if it is true or not true.
This exercise was harder for me than I anticipated, but it was fun. If you need a subject to blog about, just check with Paul. I'm sure he will be happy to provide you with five random words.
This morning I received the third of three shots in my knee that are meant to relieve the pain. The doctor said it would take about three weeks to be completely effective. In three weeks I will be in Cairo, Egypt. Hearing that my knee won't hurt made me happy.
Walking into the pool this morning I could smell the newly mowed grass. It smelled clean and fresh. That made me happy.
I worked up a sweat in the pool during my water exercise class. It felt good to be able to work out. That made me happy.
I came home to find that the cleaners from my son-in-law's company had been here. My house was neat and tidy. I admired the pattern left in the carpet by the vacuum cleaner. That made me happy.
I love peanut butter & banana sandwiches. I had a peanut butter & banana sandwich for lunch. That made me happy.
This afternoon I wrote the checks and paid all the bills. We had enough money to pay everyone. That made me happy.
I finished re-reading a book I first read when I was fourteen years old. It is a novel about King David that made me always love the Bible story of King David. It was still a good story. That made me happy.
Our son stopped by for dinner. He is working very hard to lose weight. He has lost more that twenty pounds. That made me happy.
Tonight I enjoyed good conversation and laughter with friends. That made me happy.
I will sleep tonight beside the man I have loved for almost fifty years. That makes me happy.