"What is soul? It's like electricity - We don't really know what it is, but it's a force that can light up a room" Ray Charles.
She was a woman who touched me...an elderly woman who spent the last few days of her life in a hospital bed... I was moved by her gentleness - her gratitude - her kind spirit. She was a fighter....a different kind than me.....but still a fighter. Her friends came to see me....they told me her story - they spoke with admiration...the same admiration I felt when I sat in her presence.
She had lived in Poland during the war. Her older brother had been thrown in prison. She tried to sneak some home cooked food to him, but was caught and put in prison too. While there, she was beaten and treated cruelly. Finally they released her. The war became worse and conditions in Poland were bad. Parents were frantic wanting their children to be spared. She had been a teacher. She knew the children.
On her own...alone...she took a number of those kids and escaped Poland, climbing over the mountains. She brought them to the United States but they were turned away. They settled in Mexico. She raised them until they were of age. Most eventually went to live in the United States....she herself came to Canada.
To look at her....you would never know she was a fighter. You would never think she had been so brave in the face of brutality...or that she had the courage to bring a group of children across the ocean...to a strange land...where she knew no one - alone....
And she couldn't have known how much she touched my life....made a difference...gave me something - gave me a determination not to waste what He did for me.
I don't want to be afraid to reach out - to make a difference - to take a risk. I don't want to be afraid anymore or live with shame. I've started telling a few close friends pieces of what I've lived. Their reaction is shock - mine is fear that they'll turn away from me. None have so far.
Some days I feel really confident and strong - other times.....I cringe thinking of people knowing the things that happened.
That elderly woman - her past never went away. It followed her in some ways - pulling and tugging inside. She befriended a man - similiar to her older brother. He had problems. He couldn't work. He was like a boy in a man's body. He needed her - but in many ways she needed him. Her friends didn't understand - why would she bother with him? She had the respect of so many - a great woman - a wonderful teacher. I understood.
We're shaped by what we lived....The hurts, the pain, the traumas leave imprints on our heart - in our soul. I don't think they ever completely go away. Remnants linger...they stay affecting us in ways that seem so contrary to who we have become.
I don't want my past to pull me down anymore. I don't want what I lived to keep me from living my life in complete freedom. I don't want to be ashamed of how far I had fallen.....how bad it had been. My friend told me if people know just how bad it was - they'll understand hope and grace. And if they understand - maybe they'll reach for their own freedom.
An Overseas Tale...
5 days ago