Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stand on my shoulders

When I feel too tired to cope with one more task, or too depleted to deal with another request for my attention, I recall this uplifting story about a journey to freedom. Two women were traveling by cattle car to their homes, after spending years at Auschwitz concentration camp. Although they barely survived the Nazis' brutal treatment, the war was over, and the two women were hours away from turning the keys to their front doors. When the train stopped for a few moments, one woman noticed a shaft of light near the top of the car wall. She suggested to her friend, "Stand up and look out!" But the friend, felt much too weak, and said she did not have the energy to climb up to the window. The woman stroked her hair and said, “I’m going to sit down and you’re going to stand on my shoulders.” From her friend's shoulders, the weary woman looked through the tiny window at a day so bright and beautiful she thought she had arrived in Paradise. This vignette of a little moment in a dark place creates light for everyone who reads it. The friend's gesture of sacrifice and true compassion has the power to teach and move us across the half century since World War II ended. In these times of utter fatigue or futility, I think of those words, "Stand on my shoulders." I remember how one emotionally and physically depleted woman took care of another. I feel the light, shining through a tiny window into a dark car packed with weary people, and I know that I can make the best of this day. —from an account by Edith P. from the Video Archives for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale * Photo credit: ©2009 Roger Bodian

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