Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Posts tagged ‘war’

Refugees

Last Saturday at our church, we had an event that was part of a series on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. That particular night was about Goodness, specifically how even through difficult circumstances, there is a lot of good to be found. That night a family of five (most especially the mother) presented their story of fleeing Ukraine as refugees of the current war. I was intrigued to hear about their experience, especially since my parents were refugees from Hungary around 1946.

While the mom was speaking, I found myself on the verge of tears several times. Throughout the talk, she cited Bible verses that had given her encouragement. She talked about their decision to leave Ukraine, which included leaving her parents behind. It took them five days to reach the border, with hundreds or thousands of cars creeping along the roads. Many people along the way offered them food and clothing. Gas stations gave out a limited supply of fuel. When they did reach the border, others helped them with paperwork, etc., and they entered into Poland.

Soon after, they were offered beds and showers at a convent. It was their first safe place where they could rest and get cleaned up. That was another highlight of the goodness of others. In five more days, they were able to come to the United States. They received a lot of help, during the total of these ten days, from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, of which the father is a member. Eventually the mother’s parents also came to the United States, in an even shorter time frame.

After the talk, I approached the mother to thank her for coming, and mentioned that my parents had been Hungarian refugees. Then I started crying and had to quickly escape. After so many years, and the fact that my PARENTS, not me, were refugees, I didn’t understand why I was reacting so strongly, and perhaps I never will. I was amazed that after the Ukrainian family’s ordeal, the mother was able to stand in front of an audience and not break down.

I won’t go into it much here, but I thought of many reasons why my parents situation was a bit different and possibly more traumatic, but not necessarily. For one, it was a much longer process for them; they were refugees for perhaps five years, not ten days. Their travel to the United States was much longer; perhaps about two months by boat and train; no jets for them! But there could be other reasons: emotional, family background, financial, and other factors.

In the end, I’m very grateful that the United States accepted them and that I’m here today.

Thank God for the Fleas

When my parents were World War II refugees, they lived in various Displaced Persons camps run by the U.S. and other Allies. Sometimes it would be so cold that there was frost on the INSIDE walls of their “accommodations”.   (I don’t know exactly what their living quarters were like,)  At some point in there, my older brother (a baby!), one paternal uncle, and my paternal grandmother also lived in the same camp(s). At least they had shelter!  Traumatic as it all was, thank you Allies (and, ultimately, God), for keeping my family alive!  Others, as you know, suffered considerably more: in concentration camps, in battles on land, sea, and sky, and elsewhere.

LIFE IS A GIFT! And, I’m so grateful to live in a home with heat and hot water.

Corrie ten Boom was in a concentration camp during World War II, because her family had hidden Jews in their home.  She decided to take seriously the Scripture, “… give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), so she gave thanks for the fleas in her barracks.  Sooner or later, she learned that the guards would avoid her barracks as much as possible, because of the fleas.  In that way they did not get as much abuse as they might have.  Perhaps most of us are not as faith-filled as Corrie ten Boom, but there is certainly a lesson to learn from her.

War is probably horrific for everyone touched by it, but perhaps it’s appropriate to also remember the positives.

Why do some (or perhaps all of us) encounter great trials and tribulations?  I propose a few reasons here, several or all of which could occur together:

  1. We are being tested by God.  It can be an opportunity for growth, to trust in Him more.
  2. We are being chastised by God.  ” … for the Lord disciplines those whom He loves, and chastises every child whom He accepts.” (Hebrews 12:6).  This is a good thing, because it shows that God loves us enough to correct us.
  3. We are suffering for our own or other people’s poor choices.  We make bad decisions, or others take out their frustrations on us.
  4. It’s just part of the fallen human condition.  Because of original sin, we all suffer consequences such as illness, accidents, death, etc.

No matter the reason, we must trust that God is with us through these difficulties.  I don’t see any other reason to hope.

 

 

 

The Reason I Garden

I have a passion for plants and gardening. Perhaps this video will explain why:

Please pray for the boy in the video.

The Fates of War

I was once your enemy;
The fates of war
Placed us on opp’site sides —
We had our pride.

We had a cause,
We gave not pause –
Our cause was just –
To fight we must.

Sure those in power
Were not always right,
But many focused
For loved ones to fight.

The many fallen,
The dead, the suffering,
The broken hearts,
The shrapnel puncturing …

The refugees,
The enemy aliens,
The lost, the forgotten;
The orphans taken in.

And then it ends;
We pick up the pieces.
We must forgive,
Or hatred increases.

In the end, the good will win,
Despite our many, varied sins.
And in every conflict, however grave,
If we want the same, we must forgive.

(Memorial Day, 2016)

Love Keeps Fighting

022

In the driest dirt, in the poorest soil,
Love keeps fighting an endless war.
Amidst abuse, and toil, and war
The battle rages forevermore.
In countless houses, in countless homes
The struggle goes on, the end unknown.

Will love win out, will fighting cease?
Will kindness, gentleness increase?
Will patience gain a new foothold?
Will holding tongues show that you’re bold?

The real struggle is in your heart –
Will pride and selfishness depart?
Will wanting your own way soon end?
Will you on Jesus’ love depend?

So ask yourself at each new day –
What can I do to end the fray?
When disagreements sure must loom –
Must listen to the other’s tune.

The fight again is in your heart –
It’s not that differences don’t start,
But how we handle different tunes;
Will there be harmony or ruin?

(Memorial Day, 2015)

On the Wrong Side

(Reflections on D-Day and other conflicts)

What happens when
You’re on the wrong side,
Through no fault of your own? —
You didn’t ask to be born.

What happens when
You’re one black among whites
Or one white among blacks?

What happens when
Your skin’s another color,
Your religion is different,
Or you’re the former enemy?

Peace has been declared,
But it takes take time
For hatred not to flare.

I’m on the wrong side sometimes,
But I have to live.
Please give me a chance.

Don’t judge me by labels
And prejudiced fables.
Though some may be true,
I’m a person too.

And I, too, must learn
To open my heart,
To make a new start.

To open my mind,
To learn to be kind,
Though we might disagree —
We need to be free.

To see you as special
Would really be helpful.
To see your great worth —
It really can’t hurt.

To learn to forgive,
That’s how we must live.

(June 6, 2014 – 70th anniversary of D-Day, World War II)

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