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Updated: Jan 30, 2021

I was in Mr. Noll's fourth grade class when I caught the reading bug. I don't remember the name of the book that caught me, but it was WW2 Holocaust material. It struck a deep cord in me and I've gravitated to books and stories about that horror of history ever since. These stories and accounts of sufferings unimaginable echo around in me and I feel them deeply. I'm horrified by them. I'm inspired by them. I'm encouraged by them.

The resourcefulness, the strength and the resiliency of the human spirit demonstrated in the stories of the survivors really capture my heart.

A couple of Christmas's ago I was shopping and saw "The Tattooist of Aushwitz" by Heather Morris at The Costco and wrapped it for myself and put it under the tree. This past Christmas I found her next book "Cilka's Journey" and did the same thing. And I just finished "The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz" by Denis Avey and Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz, the account of Michael Bornstein, the youngest survivor of that camp. They are all amazing, breathtaking accounts. The stories, both first hand and compilations of other accounts are beyond what I can fathom. The inhumanities that were endured, the atrocities they witnessed... and their crazy "nothing left to lose" courage... incomprehensible. Most of us will never be in situations that squeeze us to the point that we will find the true strength of our character and fiber. These stories are all told because someone survived. These stories are told because of their innate instinct, their fight, someone's mercy, someone's compassion, flat out miracles, true grit, tough fiber and almost always, someone's incomprehensible sacrifice. These stories must be told and never forgotten.

The other night Steve and I hauled up a movie to watch from The Apple TV. We chose to see JoJo Rabbit, a parody of Hitler and Nazi Germany. I had seen the previews and heard it was funny so we snacked up and cozied in to watch. I figured that anything that was overly distasteful or disrespectful wouldn't have made it this far in the public forum. But, I could just barely find anything funny in it. I cried. The Hitler character was a little funny at times but I just couldn't get past the hideous truth of what really went on during that time.

One scene remains in my mind. At one point a Jewish girl who had been hidden away in an attic comes out and stands up, finding the strength of her Jewish ancestry, "We are descended from those who wrestle angels and kill giants. We were chosen by God!" I wondered if "Hollywood" was using that as parody or irony, sarcasm or mockery? It was a strong, true statement in the middle of a dark, confused attempt at humor.

To me that line was the most profound part of the whole movie. I stopped right there.

Chosen by God. God's Chosen People.

How did these young people survive Auschwitz and the other camps and the marches for days through snow and the incomprehensible, dehumanizing encounters with true evil? How does anyone withstand something like that?

As I think about all that within the context of our modern world my take away this morning is that knowing who I am, my status as God's child, "chosen" and my relationship with him is the thing that defines where I draw my lines... when and where I take a stand. With his strength I pray it will always be resolute and unwavering.

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