Friday, February 7, 2014

A Life, A Story, A Prayer

She's small. I can barely see her over the podium. She tugs at the microphone pulling it down as far as she can, but it remains a few inches too high. Quite fit for 81-years-old. No extra pounds on that petite frame. Just a wisp of a lady--doesn't look 81 at all! And she's sharing her sad story. I'm fighting tears.

Passing her on the street, you'd never know she saw her family for the last time when she was eight.

Fake Communion

She doesn't remember her mother's face.

Her parents sent her off in the night on a train with a stranger when they knew there was no hope for them. The child had no idea she would never see her loving family again.

They had protected her from details about the war. Her father placed a piece of paper in her hands written in large block letters. The Lord's Prayer. "You must memorize this," he told her. "Your name is now Marysia, and you are not Jewish. Never tell anyone you are Jewish."

Hitler killed her parents, her grandparents, her baby brother, her aunts, uncles, and cousins. Their bodies turned to ashes in ovens while she, a child--frozen in time--survived with strangers who preserved her life though she still doesn't understand why. The strangers were rough people. Never once did they hug her or touch her affectionately. She was passed from one family to another, working, hiding, and reading. Always reading.

I heard Miriam Winter speak not long ago while visiting my girls at college. I bought her book. She signed it, and I spoke with her for a moment. I feel so privileged to have met her. I am reading her book. Curt and I are reading it aloud together. Sometimes I read, sometimes he does. Sometimes I try and cannot for the tears.

Miriam's story will linger with me.

I try to imagine what it would be like ... How differently would I see the world had I suffered what she suffered? Would I be able to trust that we have a loving Heavenly Father?

Oh, God, haunting questions come when I try to understand a life laden with this level of suffering. I want to believe that I would trust You! I do believe that You are our faithful "hound of heaven" and that You would somehow reach out to me ... to Miriam ... were I her ... to Miriam who still lives, still suffers, though she has done much with her life to benefit others, it seems.

I find myself wanting to write Miriam a letter. I want to tell her how much I have cried for her. How much I have wished she hadn't suffered such atrocities.

How can we humans do such things to each other? Though it is hard to imagine, from what I understand about human nature, I, you, everyone of us is capable of doing the things Hitler did. It all starts from an unrestrained will that wants to do what it wants to do. God wanted meaningful relationships so He had to give us freedom to choose, He had to give us free wills. We hate restraint of our will from the moment we are born. If we are not trained to self-restraint, if we refuse to surrender our will, we too are capable of doing horrible things to others, things we would never want done to us.

Sweet little Miriam was born the same year my father was born. What vastly different lives! What wildly contrasting stories! What a chasm!

I pray for this precious little lady and millions of children who are suffering even at this moment because of unrestrained wills. Oh, for the day when God brings all to justice and ends the suffering we bring upon one another!