Quick change of course

“Fortunately Jesus didn’t leave [the disciples]-
or any of us-without hope or direction.
Where we fail, Jesus succeeded.
The only One who as able to recognize and follow His purpose from the beginning was Jesus.
He alone was able to obey consistently and please God completely.
And His divine mission was to make a way for each of us to do the same.”

Charles R.Swindoll

I don’t know why I am still amazed…still amazed at how quickly our lives can
take a turn as our little worlds can quickly change in the blink of an eye.

This came to mind last night while watching the breaking news from Florida
when it was reported that there was a jewelry store robbery in
Coral Gables, Fl.

The armed robbers shot an employee of the jewelry store in the head,
took off from the store, carjacked a UPS truck, held guns to the driver’s head
and lead police on a chase that ended in a hail of gunfire.

The UPS driver and an innocent bystander were both killed.
The robbers were apprehended and both already had a laundry list of
past serious committed crimes.
I do not know how the store employee has fared.

As the wife of a man who ran his own jewelry store for 50 years,
we always thought about these incidents.
In fact, a few years before I had met my husband, he was shot in his store when
three armed men came into his store in an attempt to rob the store.

His body still bears the scar.

He was lucky.

I see a lot of UPS trucks out and about this time of year.
They actually come to our house a lot this time of year as I tend to
shop a bit more easily the older I get.

It’s a matter of a click and poof…
in a couple of days, a UPS driver rolls down my driveway.

So the thought of a man who got up yesterday to go to work and didn’t come home
last night tugged at my heart.

Then I think of the two shootings we’ve had on two of our different military bases
in the past two days…
People got up to go to work and didn’t come home because
of the evil intent of others.

So when I got an early morning call that The Mayor was throwing up
uncontrollably and they were headed to the ER of the Children’s hospital,
I simply got dressed and got in the car and made my way to Atlanta.

It hadn’t been my plan to make a mad dash on a Friday morning to Atlanta nor was it
our daughter-n-law’s plan to call into school and request a sub at the last minute.
Nor was it in the thoughts of a 22-month-old little girl to become suddenly
violently ill out of the blue.

But life happens…for good or bad.

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much take each day for granted.
Getting up, going through the motions of the day as I plan on doing the same
the following day.
I think we all do.

But maybe we, me, you all need to be a bit more reflective,
a bit more thought-filled.
Maybe we need to consider our lives a bit more reverently.
Considering it as a fragile gift that is to be savored and cherished.
Reveling in those who are nearest and dearest rather than the cursory hi’s and byes
as we pass like ships in the night.
Relishing, rather, in those brief moments we can spend together at home.

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s my age, but the revelation that life is fleeting
is felt more keenly.
And so the divisiveness eating away at our country, I find to be such a terrible waste
of time and energy.

God.
He is good…
and yet…

We are living in a time that has the lowest number of people attending a
Church or Synagogue.
We have the lowest number of people who consider religion as an
integral part of life.
We have the highest number of people who doubt the existence of God.
And yet we have some of the highest numbers of depression, suicide, addictions,
and a large number of the population that has a deep dissatisfaction with life.

I recently read that the traditional religions of Christianity and Judaism are
both being replaced in younger generations with an odd mix of yoga, self-help,
and meditation.

I saw the same thing happen in the early ’70s just as we were coming out of
the tumultuous ’60s along with a war, as people were looking desperately for some sort
of numbing agent. Self-help books were flying off the shelves.

But what is the first place we turn in the face of disaster?
We look to God.

A perplexing quirk and fickleness of humankind.

In our world, a little girl got medicine and got better.
In the world of others, they are trying to put to pieces
back together without their loved ones.

May we take this season of all things holiday to reconsider the
importance of our lives and of those in our lives.

Cherish those closest to you.
Hold them a bit longer, hug them a bit tighter.
Linger in their presence.

For both time and life are fleeting…


The Mayor and Moppie or Biyah or Ba easing back to better health / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The Mayor managing to eat a Pedialyte popscilce / Julie Cook / 2019)

Be strong and courageous.
Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

What are we to do?

“Make up your mind,” Moab says. “Render a decision. Make your shadow like night – at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees.”
Isaiah 16:3

DSC02486
(a morning glory found deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2015)

Both Lucy Lipiner and Gerda Weissmann Klein have a tale to tell. . .

Each woman weaves a story steeped in the sweet innocence of childhood which is suddenly and unimaginably lost in the midst of unspeakable horrors. . .yet thankfully theirs is a tale of eventual survival and of small yet victorious triumphs.

There are a few differences between these two woman of which create two very individual stories. . .
Differences such as their age and the fact that they were each born in different small towns.
Yet it is to the similarities between them that inextricably binds them together for all of eternity.
I am pretty certain that these woman do not personally know one another nor have they ever met, but I somehow think that in many ways they have known one another very well for a very long time as they have both survived the unimaginable stemming from the same wicked source. . .

Each woman was born in Poland and each woman was born into a Jewish family.
Whoever would have imagined that those two seemingly insignificant factors would mark these women for the rest of their lives by placing them in the valley of the shadow of Death. Had they been born say, in America or Canada, or England, their stories would certainly have been less then memorable. Lives lived as mostly anyone else’s.
But because they were born in a country lying in the path of a very hungry and vicious animal, tragedy was to be their lot.

I have finished reading Lucy’s tale and have now begun Gerda’s equally gripping story.
As I waited in the dentist office yesterday, reading until I was called back, I had tears flooding my eyes as I read the story of an individual family, like my own family or anyone’s family, being ripped apart as they stood by helpless to prevent the rupture.

Despite the fact that these two lady’s stories took place over 70 years ago, I have been struck by the similarities of the worldwide current plights now littering our news.

Each was a young girl when The War broke out–when Germany marched forth seizing Poland as its own.
Each girl came from a prominent family within their respective towns. They were loved, nurtured and happy living their lives as innocent children.

I think it is Lucy’s story that I have found to be most relevant to any story I might read in today’s paper—that of any number of families fleeing Syria or Egypt or Turkey or Somalia or Tunisia, or Eritrea, etc.— each seeking refuge from the unspeakable horrors of the upheaval of what was an average life.

Lucy’s family was on the run for almost 10 years. Starting when she was 6 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939– they became just another statistic of families in the throng of the displaced as they sought refuge in the Soviet Union and later Tajikistan then briefly back to Poland and ironically to Germany and eventually to the US.
There was death, violence, sexual abuse, grave hunger, incapacitating illness, loss, sorrow, separation and near madness.

They had been a family like any other family–they had a nice home, nice clothes, nice jewelry. They went to Temple. They enjoyed their extended family. They attended school. They had jobs. They played music as they lived, loved and laughed—-

Suddenly life took a turn beyond their control and they lost everything–they became hunted, like animals. They were reduced to wearing clothes turned to rags as there was no longer choice. They lost weight. They were hungry. They were infested with bugs, inside and out. They ate rotten trash and drank fetid water to quell an endless hunger. They were dirty, they smelled. They were sick both physically, spiritually and mentally.
They were shells of human beings.

Miraculously the family remained intact but it came at a tremendous cost to each member of the family. They survived in part due the kindness of those strangers and individuals encountered along the long and arduous journey who were willing to offer aid, shelter and comfort, as meager as it was. . .to dirty and seemingly unsavory subhuman individuals who were considered enemies of every state simply for being Jewish.

Yesterday’s news ran a story about the discovery of a lorry, or tractor trailer, abandoned on a road in Austria containing at least 70 dead bodies of migrants, or refugees, who were on what they thought to be a journey to freedom.

Today there was the story of another capsized ship losing possibly 500 individuals–men, women and children drowning while on their way to freedom.

There have been the stories of the Chunnel being overrun and shut down, day after day, by the thousands of migrants in Calais seeking asylum and freedom.

There was the story of an arson attack on a migrant shelter in Germany, as Angela Merkel was booed by those Germans not wanting to see Germany overrun by the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking safe haven.

It is said that the current influx of migrants from both Africa and the Middle East is the largest exodus of people since World War II.

A humanitarian crisis of epic proportion.

The worry– how will the small European Nations absorb the millions of people running away from tyranny, abuse and horror. . .how will they be able to provide for all of these “other” people as they continue providing for their own. . .?

These refugees are different–culturally, religiously and ethnically.

Later I read a story about the marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The story told the tale of how one group of New Orleans citizens did not want the “other” New Orleans citizens, those who were the evacuees coming from the more disadvantaged areas, to cross the bridge bringing them into the more affluent neighborhoods.

These citizens were afraid of being overrun with what was thought to be unsavory individuals bringing with them drugs, crime and violence—those citizens coming from the areas which were known to be rife with such—
And I suppose some of those feelings may have been justified after we heard the stories of the rapes and murders taking place within the Superdome when it was opened to those evacuating the lower 9th ward.

Is it fear that keeps us weary, holding our arms outward not as arms offering a welcoming embrace but rather as arms pushing away and repelling those who come seeking aid and assistance?

How can we take on an endless sea of people in need–economically absorbing the astronomical costs for healthcare, housing, education, employment and assimilation?

What of the hidden terrorists among the masses?

Are we not told to be hospitable and welcoming–offering sustenance and aid to our fellow human beings who are in desperate need?

Would we not want someone to do the same for us?

One country closes its borders.

Is that fair to the other surrounding countries?

How do we feed them all?

Where will they stay?

What of those who are criminals?

What of the illness and disease they bring with them?

What of the myriad of language barriers?

What will happen to our own way of life when it yields to the incoming masses?

Do we lose ourselves, our identity, while giving of ourselves to the “other?”

I don’t know the answers to these hard questions and I don’t think the rest of the world knows the answers either–
yet I simply keep hearing these words. . .

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 35-40

Lusia’s Long Journey Home
A young Girls’ Memoir of Surviving the Holocaust
by Lucy Lipiner

A Memoir
All But My Life
by Gerda Weissmann Klein