Friday, November 9, 2012

The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre

Last Sunday, Grace and I went with our 20th century history class to the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.  It was a very emotional day. Our history teacher, Danijel Matijevic, was an endless fount of knowledge and insight into what we were seeing and hearing.  After a tour through the museum part of the exhibit, we got to sit around tables and listen to holocaust survivors tell their stories and answer our questions. 

I have been wanting to write about this since before we went to the Memorial Centre. We briefly covered it in class, and have a creative assignment to write about what we have learned.  Entering into the world of Nazi Germany and the horrible destruction of so many people is a difficult experience, even from the vantage point of being many years away from the actual events.  I feel as if I am full of feelings and thoughts, and writing about these things is usually the way I deal with them.

But I feel unable to write. Unable to express what I am thinking and feeling.  Unable to explain why I can't stop crying, why my heart is broken.

Yesterday in history class we discussed the aftermath of WW2, the consequences for the world, and especially Europe.

Danijel quoted one German playwright, Bertold Brecht, "After Auschwitz and Hiroshima, there can be no poetry."  As I wrote this quote in my notes, I started to cry.  I feel this emptiness of poetry, of words.  I feel wordless, and yet full of things to express.  It is painful.

My favorite devotional writer, Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, writes that Christians have no business being innocent of the evil in this world.  Innocence is a lack of knowledge, or awareness, and it is a trait of childhood, not adulthood.  We must know what we are capable of, what others are capable of, what evil does in our world, our lives.  We must know that the darkness exists, that it is not as far from us as we would like to imagine, that our primary concern is not to be that we may be vicitms of someone else's evil, but that we may fall into evil ourselves, leaving victims in our wake.  Our calling, as disciples of Jesus, is to purity, not innocence.

Sometimes, in our efforts to avoid even the appearance of evil, we avoid the experience of allowing the pain of others into our own hearts.  When we looking into the darkness of this world with the love of Jesus in our hearts and minds, our hearts will be seared with the pain of others.  There will be no words, no poetry, we will be struck dumb and still.  We will weep. 

My hope is that in the brokenness, God will be God. 

The God who weeps.

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