No ifs

“Everything in this life passes away–
only God remains, only He is worth struggling towards.
We have a choice:
to follow the way of this world, of the society that surrounds us,
and thereby find ourselves outside of God;
or…
to choose the way of life,
to choose God Who calls us and for Whom our heart is searching.”

Seraphim Rose

img_1599
(remembering blooms / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Don’t say it Corrie!
There are no if’s in God’s world.
And no places that are safer than other places.
The center of His will is our only safety—-
Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!”

(Betsie ten Boom to her sister Corrie during the German occupation in Holland)

Laying awake each night now at 3AM, my mind shifts back and forth between Dad
and to the current unrest sweeping this Nation of ours.

I lay there wondering if this will be the night that the phone will ring commanding me
to hurry to Atlanta.

Trying not to think about that,
trying to settle the rising nervousness,
I shift my thoughts to
what is currently taking place in and around the country…
as I have a growing sense of real concern.

I had grown up during the Vietnam War…during the Civil Rights movements,
all the while, having grown up in the South for heaven’s sake…
I know all about news and trauma…
bad news, troubling news…
complete with its pictures and individual stories…

But this is now all different…
this is not a war weary Nation,
this is not a Nation learning how to be both black and white…

No, this is not ‘that’ Nation…

Rather this is an angry Nation….
angry for all the wrong reasons….

So I found myself now turning to read a story that I had known about for most of my life
as the book was first published in 1971. I should have read this in high school or
even college but for some reason, I never did…

It is Corrie Ten Boom’s book ‘The Hiding Place’
The story about an unassuming 50 some odd year old Dutch Reformist spinster’s
work with the Dutch underground’s resistance against the Nazi juggernaut…

A story I knew but for whatever reason had yet to read.

I began the book about a month ago.
Reading a page or two each evening…as much as I could muster after spending
each day with Dad.
I now find myself immersed in the story written by a woman who could have
been my friend.
Her writing is such that one feels as if an old friend is merely reliving
a tragic episode of life.

While I currently hear and see angry people, mostly women, screaming like
crazed individuals at television cameras about Nazis now taking over this country
all due to the election of a new president…
And after reading Miss Ten Boom’s story,
I am again keenly reminded as to who the actual Nazis really were and that they,
along with their leader Adolf Hitler, have nothing in common with our country’s current
new presidential administration.

But more importantly I am profoundly reminded about what it means to choose a life as a
true follower of Christ.

Corrie and her entire family had been arrested by the Nazis when it was discovered
that they were working as part of the Dutch Resistance.
Corrie and her Sister were subsequently beaten and imprisoned,
eventually being sent to the Death Camp Ravensbruck.

At one point after enduring severe brutality, hardships and heartbreaking loss,
such that my mere words fail to recount, Corrie is struck by her sister’s Christian focus.
Despite deprivations, ill and failing health as well as being treated no better than
herded cattle, Betsie sees God’s hand….
Where Corrie only had seen evil and hate,
here was her sister Betsie, who had endured so very much seeing not so much hate and evil
but rather humans, much like herself,
who were also victims…
victims of the same evil…just like them…

“This was evil’s hour: we could not run away from it.
Perhaps only when human effort has done its best and failed,
would God’s power alone be free to work”

And there in the dark and frustrating silence of those wee morning hours…it struck me
Are any of us truly living the life of what it means to follow Christ…
to honestly follow Christ…not the Christ we imagine or model in our own image…
not a Christ who places limits or demands…
Not a Christ who has all of life’s endings working happily to
our own personal fairytale closure…
but rather the real Christ, the God made man whose words were pointedly specific and seemingly,
as assumed by much of mankind, as harsh and almost impossible to carry out…

Or are we simply following our own focus…deferring to our twisted idea of how
a world should run according to the Gospel of self…..

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with everything good for doing his will,
and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

exacting

We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures…
If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.

John O’Keefe

“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world.
And no places that are safer than other places.
The center of His will is our only safety –
let us pray that we may always know it!”

― Corrie ten Boom

DSCN3656 (1)
(heat lightening in a hot Georgia July night sky / Julie Cook / 2015)

For some it comes gradually…painstakingly and agonizingly slow…

For others it comes in the fury of immediate energy found in the flash of lightning…
precise…
pinpoint…
and near deadly…

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of the word Exacting is: requiring much time, attention
or effort from someone : very difficult or demanding

And it is to that exacting end, of the often difficult and demanding road,
that Christians are dutifully bound….

For ours is an exacting God and a demanding fatih.

He is a God who requires much from us, His created.

For the life of a believer is not a passive experience.

It is not a life of basking in the wonderment of being created,
the rhythmic marvel of breathing…
or the mystery found in forgiveness.

It is not a life of prestige, or comfort, or even ease.

Rather it is a life that runs against the grain.
It is rough as raw cut wood
and yet it is as smooth and as slick as polished stone.

It is faith both trying and challenging and not for the faint of heart.
For the cross we carry is not light nor ever manageable but rather cumbersome and weighty.

This faith of ours is not for those who choose to tarry, often taking their sweet time…
For it is that very thing called time that is of the true essence…

This living faith is not for those who believe in immunity, free from pain, or hurt or sorrow.
As believers, we often face the tempest storm, alone…for the world will turn its back.

We live in a time of reality’s denial.
And a time of mandatory tolerance…yet the tolerance is not ours to know.

He asks His own to stay while the world chooses to go.
He calls upon His own to go when the world decides to stay.

He asks, He commands, He requires…

For it is ultimately a choice between life and death…

And it is for that very Life that we each have so chosen to die…

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Romans 6:6

Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts.
Jeremiah 7:23-24

The two hardest words…

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
― Corrie ten Boom

“Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted—i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone.You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep on looking at it.”
― C.S. Lewis

RSCN2976
(evening light casts a calm over the blooms / Julie Cook / 2016)

A hand extends…
“take it”
The voices implore.

Hesitation shadows the moment…
Assurances ring through the trepidation…

An internal battle ensues…
Yes or no
stay or go
Trust or not

Slowly or quickly, it matters not
you chose to extend your hand…

The two hardest words known to man, no matter the language…

Trust me…

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Clear trust

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
― Corrie ten Boom

DSC00599
(a dense fog closes in on the light / Julie Cook / 2015)

That’s what it’s all about isn’t it. . .trust.
And we really don’t like trust do we?
Because we’d rather control wouldn’t we?

Because if we control, then we don’t have to trust.
And if we don’t have to trust, then we can just know (perhaps assume) that things are going to be done as we would have them done, as we don’t particularly like having to trust someone else to do what we know is going to be done right, right?

Can we make certain that things are always done right?
Yes, but only if we do them, right?
Because that’s the only way we’d do these things in the first place, as in right, right?
And of course we don’t have to trust ourselves to do things right because we know ourselves and we, only us, know how to do things right, right?
And we don’t have to trust anyone else because we can just do it all ourselves because we always do it right anyway, right?

And of course we’re going to want it to be our way, because our way is really the best way, the right way and the only way. . .right?
Because if we have to leave it to others, then we’d have to trust others to do things and. . .we just don’t “do” trust remember because we “do” control.
We make certain that we will be doing all things, only as we would do them, of which of course, is the right way and the only way. . .right?
Because we’ve always known that if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself, right?

And if, say, this something which needs doing, is something that’s to be happening in advance or in the future. . .then the questions begs.. .how do we really know it’s actually going to be happening in the first place?
How do we know it’s really going to take place?
How do we know we’ll actually get to do whatever it is we’re to be doing if it’s in the future, and knowing there’s no guarantee about that whole future business, as it’s in the future, we’ve got problems, right?

And of course the answer to all of this is, we don’t know.
And as we don’t know the future, what we do know is that there are no guarantees in that whole future business. . .
We just simply trust it’s all going to take place.
We simply trust it’s all going to go on like it normally does and normally should.

Which brings us all back around to that word again, trust.

But remember, we don’t like trust, preferring control and yet. . .we have to trust because we can’t see into the future, which in turn means we simply just have to trust we have a future.
We have to trust in what we think is the unknown, because really there’s no other way, right?
So we agree, right?
There’s simply no getting around the fact that we can’t control the future, right?

Well. . .I suppose we certainly think that perhaps we can lay out the ground work to pretty much have the future as we’d like it to be, prefer it to be, hope it to be, guarantee it to be, right?

Yet that whole best laid plans deal really isn’t a guarantee is it?
As this whole life thing is pretty much open to chance right?
Of course we work really hard to lay a plan, plot a course, chart the waters, setting it all into motion. . .we do this for this, then that for that, because it’s all suppose to follow one step right after another. . .falling all into place making certain we get to where we’re going as we had planned right?

That’s control, right?
But life, what’s that?
That is not control.
Life is life and life happens. . . and when life happens control gets jack-knifed and trust shows back up.
Because in essence we really don’t have much control in this life now do we?
Yet we do have trust.
Trust doesn’t get jack-knifed.
It’s just always steadfastly there, waiting in the wings.
Control, not so much.
And here we are, once again, reminded that we don’t really like to trust, preferring to control because we think we can control, control. . .
However we can’t really do that now can we?
So once again, here we are back to trust.

And that’s all God asks in the first place. . .that we put our trust in Him for it is the Lord your God who is in total control. . .and so. . . now we understand, right?
We understand that we need to simply trust because it is God who is in control, not us, and He has asked one simple thing of us. . . “Trust me”

“But blessed is the
one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

the warp and weft of Nature’s master weavers

Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Chief Seattle

RSCN6876
(images of both male and female green lynx spiders which blend in beautifully with the coral geraniums / Julie Cook / 2014—remember, I’m terribly fearful of spiders but the colors were such a draw, almost mesmerizing)

DSCN6870

DSCN6890

DSCN6888

RSCN6875

RSCN6881

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

― Corrie ten Boom

The Duration

The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.
Corrie Ten Boom
DSCN5100
(a lovely flower in Wright’s Square / Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2014)

As our car pulled up to the hotel valet parking, with my aunt and I both shrieking for joy for having made the 4.5 hour journey in one piece, we noted that the guys who were waiting to help us unload the car, looking a bit like deer in headlights–as in “what in the heck has just pulled up to the curb” sort of fretful look.

It was either due to the fact that two crazy woman were hooting and hollering as they pulled up to the valet desk, or that a small SUV just pulled up with a giant Winston Churchill riding shotgun, or that a year’s worth of bags were staring them in the face, as the car was stuffed to the gills.

In our giddy as well as weary excitement, we explained that half the stuff could just stay in the car as we wouldn’t need it until Friday. They seemed relived.
I kind of think Winston had them a tad intimidated.

They loaded all the luggage, dresses, bags, pillows, picnic baskets, etc on the cart and pushed it in as we lagged behind.
The greeting by the front desk staff was warm and cordial—of course it was, this is still the South you know. Our rooms weren’t ready but no worries, hitting the pavement in search of an antique store or two would be a marvelous diversion in 91 degree heat.

Once the rooms were good to go, we made our way back to the hotel and schlepped our crap up the elevator. My room was facing the oh so busy main Savannah East Bay drag—in a nutshell—loud and raucous. Not being one who can sleep in the best of conditions, we headed back down to the lobby to inquire if there was perhaps a quieter room available, but if not, I’d just suck it up and deal with it.

The young lady behind the desk was as gracious and kind as she could be and actually moved me up 3 more floors–a prime view, still over the busy street but up enough as to muffle some of the sound. Pushing the luggage cart, maneuvering it through doors, in and out of elevators with me pulling and my aunt pushing was a comedy of errors—but we managed to unload, reload, move, and unload again with minimal disaster.

DSCN5095

As it appears I have arrived for the duration, it must be noted that not all of that is mine.
My husband is coming down tomorrow night. I went ahead and brought down his bag. The bride asked if I’d bring down her dress for the rehearsal dinner. My aunt’s bag was along for the ride–yet the eyes of those in the lobby who were surveying our cart, spoke volumes. . .”they must be moving in” was the same smug stare from every face.

May it also be noted, you can’t take a wedding on the road and show up with some little over night bag.
Miracles are packed in those bags.
Straightening irons, brushes, makeup, baubles, party clothes, pretty shoes, perfume, the organization manual–aka–cookie’s notebook.

And so now, as I sit alone in this big ol room, sans husband and two cats, wondering what do to with myself. . .I think I’ll count the cars which are zooming past on the street below in order to fall fast asleep, as there are more errands and preparations looming tomorrow. All as the countdown continues.

One car, two motorcycles, three loud pedestrians, four street musicians. . .
(***and just so you know, it is now morning and the passing vehicles throughout the night do not, I repeat, do not make for slumbering assistance–nor the 5 AM constant din of traffic pouring into this major eastern seaport town—ode to puffy eyes)

“you say you want a revolution. . .”

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank

DSCN4606
(detail of an antique fire bonnet/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Whoa retired art teacher. . .those are some pretty strong words are they not?
I suppose you’re right dear reader, the word “revolution” does evoke all sorts of radical connotations.
Just posting the word on the blog probably has some government top dog out there curious as to the tom-foolery this retired educator is trying to stir up. . .

With the ongoing escalation of tensions between the US, Europe and Russia regarding the state of the free and democratic country of Ukraine, the continuing saga in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel–peace talks on, peace talks off. I’m 54 years old— these “peace” talks have been ongoing and the tension ever present. . .long before I ever entered this world and it has all been going on almost since the beginning of time. Even before Israel became an independent state, the discord has existed, and will continue as the biblically minded among us simply nod in a sad understanding. . .it does seem that the world at large is indeed in need of some sort of Revolution.

And then there were the headlines out of Chicago this past week. . .

I was fortunate to have visited the toddling town this past August, falling in love with life on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city itself is full of delightful green space, attractions for the eyes, the intellect, the tastebuds, the sports minded, as well as for the outdoor enthusiast. We walked to most destinations and took taxis for those out of reach. We felt safe and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

I am also quite familiar with Chicago’s darker past of the bygone days of Speakeasies, Gangland activity and Government corruption. Sadly it seems, however, that the past may never have truly been eradicated and redeemed as news from this midwestern hub of commerce and charm appears most dire and grim.

Over the course of the Easter weekend, there were a reported 45 shootings in the city, out of which there were 45 wounded or dead.
(see the full article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/22/how-chicago-became-chiraq.html)

Many of the victims were children. Reportedly, involving one most disturbing incident, when a car pulled up, at a park were young children had gathered after Easter Church services to play— a passenger in the car points a gun at a group of kids, with the oldest child being age 11, asking if they were members of a gang. Before the children could respond, they were all shot.

I should have suspected something was a rye when, on the morning of our final day in Chicago, I had flipped on the morning news. It was a Monday in mid August, the first day back to school for the kids of Chicago. The lead story was of the neighborhood safety watches, with individuals literally posted along sidewalks, in order for the kids to be to able to walk to school without fear of gun violence. “Wait a minute,” I silently muttered, “we did not see anything like this during our visit!. . .” The teacher and parent in me filed this away as most unsettling.

The city, of which I have recently learned, has the dubious nickname of “Chiraq”—a butchered mixing of the words Chicago and Iraq—and with 45 shot dead or wounded during the course of a single weekend, I can understand the war zone distinction. But I suppose we could say the same for the streets of Compton, Detroit, Atlanta. . .as the list goes on and on.

We can argue that all of this is a direct result of guns or that it’s because of the drugs, or it’s because of the gangs, or it’s because of the broken family unit, or it’s because of welfare, or it’s because of unemployment, or it’s because of race, or it’s because of the social structure, or it’s because all of the above and them some. . . etc, on and on, ad infinitum, as it does go on and on.

We can tout that if we simply eradicate, educate, communicate, placate, eliminate, etc, then we can fix our mess of violence in this country as well as in this world.

Did any of that intellectual rumination matter this week in Kabul, Afghanistan when the man chosen to guard, defend and protect 3 American doctors and medical volunteers, who were in that country to help save the lives of woman and babies, thought it better to shoot and kill these selfless aid workers at point blank range?

How simple was it to understand that their mission was merely one of service and aid, yet even that didn’t seem to matter to one who convinced himself that their death outweighed their service.

Who thinks like that?!
Who thinks it’s ok to shoot kids?
Oh I best not start with the questions, as we’d be here all day. . .

The revolution of which I speak is a not a Revolution of unrest, violence and destruction but rather a Revolution of Love.
Not some dippy hippy, day of yore, let’s make love not war, mubmo jumbo. . .but an actual revolution of Agape.

Agape–ἀγάπη, agápē
Greek for unconditional love.
Not a romantic love, not a sexual love, not an obsessive love, not a self love, but the love of one human begin for another–the same love of the omnipotent God for His creation and in turn, His Creation for Him.

Unconditional, meaning without strings attached–the concern of another human being without regard to self and self’s wellbeing—just like what those doctors in Afghanistan possessed. . .

But Julie, how can one love others when staring down the barrel of a gun, when one is holding a dead or dying loved one in one’s arms, when all one has spent a lifetime working for and building is destroyed and or taken. . .? Does not violence, hatred, death and destruction beget only more of the same?

Examples are indeed all around us—as they have been down through the ages.
Notable examples of such are the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe who voluntarily gave his life in place of a jewish man in the death camp of Auschwitz. Mother Teresa who spent a lifetime picking up the diseased and dying Hindu and Muslim in the streets of Calcutta. Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian Dutch resistance underground worker whose family spent much of the War hiding Jews in their home, who were all eventually arrested, sent to Ravensbruck Concentration camp, where she alone survived. Her book The Hiding Place documents this harrowing and dark time of the world’s history.

We can also say that individuals such a Mahatmas Ghandi and even Martin Luther King Jr were also shining examples of what peace and the demonstration of Love can accomplish when staring at violence and death head on.

I for one have grown weary of the gangs, the drugs, the wars, the hate, the resentment, the needless killings, the disregard for human life and human dignity.

When will enough ever be enough?

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right!

(Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

A Noble Treason

“….only religion can reawaken Europe and restore Christianity to its earthly mission as patron and founder of world peace.”
Novalis

DSCN0076

(a white rose in the garden /Julie Cook / 2013)

Merriam Webster defines treason as:
the betrayal of a trust : treachery
the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or
the sovereign’s family.

Noble is defined as:
possessing, characterized by, or arising from
superiority of mind or character of ideals or morals.

Putting the two together produces something akin to an oxymoron.
Killing, betrayal, overthrowing, injuring all coupled with high character and
superior morals.
Certainly sounds like a conflict to me–
a clashing of two vastly different thoughts of mind and/or philosophies….
and yet, each were inextricably linked and exemplified during a terribly
grave time of madness.

Yes, I’ve posted images of white roses before,…not this particular image however.
And yes, I’ve written a specific post on the White Rose revolt and Sophie Scholl…
even briefly addressing it in an additional post…and yet, here I am again.
A flummoxing situation has arisen as I find myself in a quandary.

I just finished the book today…
A Nobel Treason–The Story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Revolt Against Hitler.

I know what you’re thinking, “Julie, how long have you been reading that book…
it’s been since May hasn’t it?”
Yes, it has been a very long read.
Not because it is a voluminous tome, not because my life is so consumed that
I can’t find the time…
simply put it has not been an easy read.
The story has been such that I have had to put the book down,
sometimes for weeks on end.

I’m not here to give a book review as that is not my purpose for this post.
My intent is, however, to continue the story of these young people,
to continue placing them, their lives,
their act of passive resistance in the forefront of our minds,
lest we forget.
Hence my quandary…
I can’t keep quiet and not share….
for the final word of the book was to “remember me”….
and remember we shall.

I know what you’re thinking, that all of this is of the past,
why do we have to revisit something so terrible?
Can’t we just let it go?
As none of us really like thinking about any of this.
A casual response might be that “I don’t know these kids, never heard of them…
who cares….?”

I have said this time and time again—
if we forget the past, if we let it go as it were,
we are bound to fall into some bad old ways.
And whereas it won’t be exactly like it was—we won’t, I don’t think,
allow for another Hitler, another Holocaust,
but there are places on this globe that may beg to differ.
There are other names for such…ethnic cleansing or genocide,
ask Bosnia-Herzegovina, ask the Kurds in Iraq,
ask the Rwandans, those in Darfour…the list goes on.

It all still continues…it’s just that it happens under different names and in
different places.
Time and distance does not make it right, does not make it go away…
But this country of mine seems more concerned and consumed with the latest Hollywood starlet’s demise, Queen O and her handbag flack in Zurich as well as
stories about some idiot politician and his bad boy behavior.
Sometimes I sadly wonder where the moral hutzpah of this nation has gone.

Sophie, her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst were college kids who
could no longer tolerate the cultural and dehumanizing demise of their once
culturally and academically rich historic nation.

Theirs was a literary sort of resistance as they produced leaflets for distribution denouncing The Third Reich.
No violence,
no overt opposition as they had each served their time in the Hitler Youth Program.

It was just to be the power of the written word coupled by the desire that the
World know that there were those who still remained in Germany who still
possessed a moral consciousness as well as a civility that had otherwise vanished
in the wake of Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich and National Socialism.

Before it was all over, 6 of their group, all of them young college kids plus a noted professor, would be lead to a guillotine—
14 others sent to various prisons and concentration camps.
The spinoff branches, which had taken hold throughout Germany,
were also then rounded up and either executed or imprisoned.
The Gestapo was working over time to silence a mere handful of dissident youth.
Why and how could a group of young people living in the small town of Ulm cause
such alarm and fear within the upper ranks of the Gestapo and Nazi Party by their
quiet distribution of mere pamphlets…
such that the dreaded and powerful Heinrich Himmler himself took personal
command of the situation and of the ultimate sentencing.

When arrested they all took full responsibility for their actions never
capitulating never recanting.
There was a calmness in the face of certain death.

A single word comes to mind….
Brave.

Could I walk calmly to have my head chopped off?
Could I bear all responsibility, trying to deflect potential harm from my
friends and family?
Could I remain brave or would I be of the status quo afraid of the reprisals?
Could I still hold to my convictions while facing the possibility of
tortures, when those I trusted turned on me, pretended not to know me?
Could I remain brave seeing the tears and sorrow in the face of my parents
as they said good-bye one final time……

I have never been able to wrap my brain around Hitler, the Nazis,
or of the German people who fell under the spell…
how could a once proud country of northern Europeans,
whose nation, though its millennium of rich history,
which had given so much to the world in the way of literature, art and music,
be capable or such barbarism?
How could they have allowed it to grow into such a monstrous level of hate and death
while doing little or nothing to stop it….
going as far as even agreeing with it?

I find it nearly impossible understanding the unthinkable death camps and of
the horrific things a few humans would inflict on other humans,
using those deemed “less than” as lab rats for all sort of heinous acts…
As there were the ovens and the chambers…

But of course that was then and this is now….
why do I torture my mind by pondering such…

Because none of those 6 million plus individuals died in vain,
And just because it is a staggering number that is so overwhelming…
almost impossible to comprehend,
Nor should we forget the millions left dead on the various battlefields
before the war was all said and done.

We remember the women paraded to the “showers” who were stripped naked while
walking past sneering and heckling guards…

These were wives, mothers, sister, daughters….

There were the children torn from the arms of parents.

How do we now comprehend humans being so unfeeling and disconnected
from other humans?

And yet, it continues today…simply in a different guise and in different
part of the world.

But the question should be asked, are there groups of young dissidents
today such as Sophie, Hans and Christoph and if so, where then?
I don’t know.

At first these were Germans against Germans.
It seemingly starts insidiously then grows to an almost triumphant crescendo,
when the world first takes notice, with Kristallnacht,
the night of the shattering glass.
Germans killing fellow Germans because of their religion…
destroying lives, businesses, and unbeknownst, destroying themselves.

I thankfully will never know what it was like to live in a Germany destroyed by
a previous world war.
I have not lived through a great depression nor of a war fought on my own soil.
I do not personally know what those sorts of things do to people.

One of the most poignant parts of the book retells the story of the hurried up
monkey trial for Sophie, Hans and Christoph–
from the time of their arrest to the trial and of the ultimate beheading,
it was less than a week—
unheard of today as these sorts of things could take months to sort out.

Their parents had learned on a friday of their children’s arrest.
On Monday they took the train to Munich thinking they would be there for the trial.
But the trial was already in progress by the time the parents arrived.
The Scholl’s pushed their way through the crowded courtroom to where their children were sitting before the most notorious judge of the Third Reich,
Roland Freisler.
Freisler had been immediatley dispatched from Berlin to pass sentence on three of Germany’s brightest youth.

When Mrs. Scholl first sees her children in a defendant’s box and hears their words,
it is all she can bear.
She faints and is taken from the courtroom.
She attempts to re-enter,
explaining to the guard that she is the mother of the defendants—
the response from the guard was cold, not one of empathy…
“You should have done a better job raising them”

Aggghhhh the irony!!!

The fact here is that she had done a marvelous job raising her children as she and her husband instilled in their children the deepest sense of responsibility and moral conviction that would transcend time …

No, I don’t think I will ever understand this particular time of our human history. Countless historians, military experts, philosophers, analysts, etc…
greater minds than my own,
have written about, researched and written some more regarding the how and
why of it all—-yet still leaving the world no less wiser.
Was it the perfect storm of events which created such a black and horrendous
scar on our existence?

The White Rose organization wanted the World to know that there were still
decent people remaining in Germany,
defiant and not willing to bend to the will of a madman.
The young Anne Frank, hiding hundreds of miles away in Amsterdam
remarked that she still believed that people were still inherently good.
The christian Corrie ten Boom worked along side her father to aid countless
Jews trying to escape the death grip of the Nazis only to face prison herself.
Father Hugh O’Flaherty worked tirelessly in Rome, within the Vatican
and under the vise of Nazi occupation and Mussolini’s fascist regime,
working tirelessly to smuggle thousands of men, woman and children out of the
county.

I suppose the small ray of hope is that there are men and woman who remain the
still small voices in the desert of the madness of humanity..
their voices continuing to fight and cry out when all else seems lost.

There always will remain a moral compass to guide others.
There will always be risk as there are those who will work equally as hard to
silence the voice of justice and righteousness.

I can hope that when I am faced with the choice of action, of speaking out
verses remaining silent…
I will chose to act and to speak–
to speak loudly with brave conviction–
may it be so that we all choose the courageous path of the often lonely and
dangerous road of justice and moral obligation.