My He(ART)-Full Life

Thursday, January 24, 2013

a necessary darkness and a trembling

I just completed Night and ...there is so much I want to say but  I simply can't. Words don't seem enough. I have descended into a necessary darkness and a trembling; every single page shattered my heart for all time. The book is long and short all at the same time; it seems as if the pages stretched out from the beginning of time to infinity. What madness...and how can we possibly make sense out of any of it?? Dr. Wiesel not only writes about his experiences in chilling detail at the Buna concentration camp but also questions his faith ("Where was God at Auschwitz?"), questions...everything (how can he not??). He was only a child of 15. 
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith for ever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live
as long as God Himself.

                                                      Never Shall I Forget from Night by Elie Wiesel.
Because I grew up under a Nazi government, I didn't even know anything about the holocaust until I was in Canada (I was about 14 ). Under apartheid South Africa, we did not have access to information, books, history. None of that!! All we were taught was Afrikaner propaganda. So when I first saw footage of the holocaust in my social studies class...I had to leave the room because I became physically ill.  But now I understand that we have been called to bear witness to the atrocities and sufferings of these unknown souls. That is our solemn remember, to speak up, to hold an infinitesimal portion of their pain. This pic was taken at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. about 5 years ago. One of the things I remember to this day were the mounds and mounds of shoes.... actual shoes that held feet and hearts and hopes and dreams and terror and madness. Looking at those shoes made me ...what??? I don't even know. Infinitely sad? Broken? Hopeless?? Despair?? Angry?? All of these things and none of these things....a great silence.

There is a lot I don't know...but I do know this.
*our stories are important. terribly terribly so.
*when we see injustice, we must speak up. we must. if we don't, there will be no-one left to speak up.
* we have to try to make sense and give meaning to our lives by speaking our truth. the time is not tomorrow...the time is now. 
* as impossible as it is to understand such madness...we must try so as: not to forget and not to repeat. 


Kelly said...

I love your beautiful soul.

Anonymous said...

yes, the terrible mountains of objects...have you read victor frankl's 'man's search for meaning'? he survived the camps and became very interested in what makes a survivor...i found his work really inspiring, a touchstone for how we must reach out to others and come through together...i helped a suicidal young woman at the doctor's today, and then explained to my new doctor why this was so important to me, it makes sense of my survival, if i help others...we ended up having a lovely conversation about what makes life worth living...of course i mentioned art ;)
also worth reading is 'the book of the just' the story of those who helped, who are honoured at yad vashem. you do not have to be a good person, or a hero, just refuse to stand by and do nothing...also you do not have to be a heroine to deserve surviving,

irene klepfisz' poem is the best expression of this i know...
to light a candle and make the life and art that matters, is what is asked of us who survive, by those who did not.
hugs xxx

laurie said...

i read night years ago but remember being moved by its story of courage in such horrendous conditions. i also recommend man's search for meaning. two books written by brave survivors to remind us to remain vigilant lest history repeats itself.