Sunday, February 28, 2016

Another Lenten Labryinth walk

 It's often been said that walking a labyrinth is a metaphor for your own spiritual journey; 
that the experience you have,
on any given occasion, 
mirrors what's going on in your life at the time.

This was certainly true yesterday.
I was unable to walk Labyrinth #3 in the morning
because of a Vestry retreat at church
but a late afternoon session, 
before joining friends for dinner,
 fit my schedule perfectly.

It surprised, yet suited, me that
as shadows lengthened and darkness approached,
I walked on ground less firm than the preceding two weeks.
many with sharp jagged edges,
and ground giving way beneath my feet,
echoed where my thoughts have been lately.

Given the depth of the gravel
and how difficult it was to get a firm footing
the walk was more challenging,
demanding more attention.
My inability to 'get a grip' due to
small stones infiltrating my shoes
which caused me to readjust my footing or stop,
attempt to balance on one leg
and empty out my shoe of the offending pebble -
rendered the walk less enjoyable.
Shifting ground,
being off balance
and aware of approaching darkness
were themes that echoed
in my soul.

I have become increasingly concerned
that we in the United States
are living through a period in our history
which echoes that of pre-Hitler Germany;
that what once would have been 'the unthinkable'
is being given room to grow
and become 'the possible'.

All week,
I've wondered if this is how 'regular' Germans felt
as the Nazis were growing in strength,
spreading their hate.

I've wondered if 'regular' German citizens were pacified
by the media,
their neighbors,
their institutions
and told not to worry so much ...

that the foolish little caricature of a man,
as spellbinding a speaker as he was,
was just a showman;
he would never have enough followers
to be too much trouble;

that certainly the 'good' citizens
of one of the greatest empires in the world
would never fall for his empty promises,
his lack of a true 'plan',
his overt hatred of 'the other'
wrapped in the national flag.

Hitler promised the disenchanted a better life 
and a new and glorious Germany. 
The Nazis appealed especially to the unemployed, young people, 
and members of the lower middle class 
(small store owners, office employees, craftsmen, and farmers).
Sound familiar, anyone?

The party's rise to power was rapid. 
Before the economic depression struck, 
the Nazis were practically unknown, 
winning only 3 percent of the vote 
to the Reichstag (German parliament) in elections in 1924. 
The Tea Party?
In the 1932 elections, 
the Nazis won 33 percent of the votes, 
more than any other party. 

In January 1933 Hitler was appointed chancellor, 
the head of the German government,
 and many Germans believed that they had found a savior 
for their nation
 I've wondered how these people could be reading the same texts in the Bible that I read:
the texts in which LOVE is the main message,

especially LOVE towards,
the outcast, 
the alien, 
the poor,

I've wondered how they could have had experiences
so different from mine;
 their education so limited,
critical thinking so meager,
they can't see a charlatan
when he's frothing at the mouth 
right in front of their faces.
I don't recognize our country anymore
and I'm afraid for its future.
Then I realized where Labyrinth # 3 was located.

It's the only labyrinth in St Louis
maintained by a Jewish congregation.
 If any people know the dangers
of doing nothing,
saying nothing,
giving room for evil to take root, 
it's the Jewish community.

I realized that now, in the United States,
we have an advantage
pre Hitler Germans didn't have.

We have history;
we know that braggadocios buffoons are capable of great evil;

we mustn't forget.

We know that silence
gives consent to evil.

It may be bleak ...
 but the darkness hasn't completely taken over yet.
 At least, I hope it hasn't.
I'm ready to join the Resistance - 
 even as ground shifts beneath my feet -
I'm ready to walk the walk!

It starts with a few of us ...
and it starts now.

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