The crunch of gravel. What is that sound? Is it me? Walking. Walking down a path that leads…where? Where does it go now?
A concrete wall with rusty barbed wire peeking over the top. But this place is so beautiful. How could such evil exist here? But it did.
I enter the gate. It’s still early in the day and this place is peaceful now. The birds sing, but the trees still hold the memories. They saw it all. They know. You and I—we weren’t there—we won’t truly know. It’s been so long and the survivors and the murderers are nearly gone now too, but the past shouts. And it repeats. What do I feel? What should one feel standing in a place like this?
What does one do? What can one do? I want to do something! But what? So I walk, I pick a flower and press it into the pages of my Bible. I walk and I look. So many faces, so many names. The birds sing and the gravel crunches between my shoes…
I have this written in my journal from after I visited Sachsenhausen in Germany this past spring. Sachsenhausen was a death camp used by the Nazi’s. I went there. And then I left. I walked out alive. One of the things that struck me was how close the camp was to the town. The people knew what was going on—they had to know. I judged them.
I came home, I came back to the states. I started my job. I work at a café. I teach music lessons and Sunday school. I’m busy. I get tired. My life seems huge to me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and I have a giant pity party for myself when people walk into the restaurant five minutes before closing and make an extra mess for me to clean up. Oh, woe is me!
Then Friday night happened for me. I have a confession to make. I really don’t follow the news much. I make excuses about being too busy to read the newspaper…and pinterest and facebook are so much more, well…fun, then spending my internet time reading political articles. But Friday night I decided that I needed to find out more about what has been going on with this whole thing in Syria. So I did some internet searches. I felt pathetic. I felt convicted. People are dying. People are dying and it’s Friday night in the US and I’m frustrated because I can’t decide what movie to watch on Netflix. God forgive me!
I’ve always been fascinated with the Holocaust. The Shoah. I want to tell these people’s stories, and make sure they are not forgotten. I’ve wished there was something I could do! I’ve felt the anger well up inside me when I remember the 1930’s when Hitler was tightening his grip in Europe and people and governments did NOTHING. People were dying. And in the US we ate our apple pie and turned the newspaper pages to the funnies. Self-righteously we sit back and are aghast at how people allowed these things to happen. We judge them.
The past is gone. It won’t return. There is nothing I can do now to save those people. But the past isn’t silent—it shouts. And it is shouting at us loud and clear right now. Read the newspaper, look at your internet browser! Syria, North Korea, Egypt, Darfur. We talk about the terrible things that happened in the past and we ask how people could have allowed it to happen and why nobody did anything, but this is the same thing! People are dying. Christians are being tortured and persecuted and we sit–we sit and we do nothing! I sit, and I look at my pinterest page. What are we doing!? What am I doing? Our brothers and sisters are experiencing unimaginable things and we ACT like we don’t even care.
We ask, what really can we do? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a non-resistant Anabaptist Christian, and I’m NOT saying we should all go join the army and attack Syria, but I AM saying that we have more powerful weapons than that! When was the last time your church had a prayer meeting simply to intercede for persecuted Christians? When was the last time I personally fasted and prayed over these international issues? Do I even care enough to read my newspaper? When was the last time you simply took five minutes out of your day to pray for an individual in a far-off land who was arrested and torn away from their family? Shame on us. Shame on me.