February 17, 2012
On Wednesday of this week I took a day trip into Washington D.C. It’s about 2 hours by car and public transit. I particularly went to see the World War 2 memorial and the Holocaust museum. I have been to D.C. on numerous occasions but had not been to either of these two places. Ellen asked me when we texted on Wednesday night if I was glad I went. I told her that “glad” was not the right word. That’s not unlike saying you are “glad” when a family member dies after a long and painful illness. We are “relieved” for them but somehow “glad” doesn’t work. I told her I “needed” to go but was not “glad” to go.
If you have not been to D.C. you need to go. But let me suggest that you prepare yourself. It requires a lot of walking! Literally miles of walking. Unless you are going to go with a tour company the best thing to do is park outside the city and take the train/subway. Their mass transit system is efficient, clean and not too pricey.
Frankly I was in tears most of my time there. I was glad to have sunglasses. I was thinking that I wished my dad was living so that I could take him to see this memorial dedicated to him and so many other Americans who fought and died in that terrible war. (Over 400,000 American servicemen and women perished). The memorial sits in the mall between the Washington monument and the Lincoln monument. It occurred to me that Lincoln, representing the Civil War and then the WW2 memorial… those two events account for over 1 million American lives given to war. General William T. Sherman of the Civil war is attributed with the saying “War is Hell!” I have no personal experience, but I’m sure he was right.
I don’t know how to put my time at the holocaust museum into words. I told Ellen that I was “numb” while there. The word “holocaust” comes from two words: “holo” which means “total” or “complete.” And the word “caust” which literally means “burning”, and by inference “destruction, annihilation…” There are many things I could say but let me share with you the one thing that struck me the most while there (and there were many things!) There was a video of an interview with a Jewish man who lived through the terror and suffering of that time. He was relating his story when at the end he began to weep and in his anguish he asked this question: “where was God, where was God?!?! Aren’t we His chosen people? Where was God?!?! I don’t know, I don’t know.” Those words and others similar to them have been spoken by countless people over the years in many different sets of circumstances. There is no answer that satisfies. My hope and prayer is that a day will come in glory… when pain and suffering are a thing of the past… that we will find peace with what happened on this place called earth.* But until that time, there will be evil and evil people. There will be those who live their lives to lord it over others and to do whatever it takes to get what they want. A world filled with anarchy, hatred, godlessness, and the “total burning” of others.
Tragically, we in the Church have added to this “godlessness” too many times in our history. We encouraged the killing of countless people during the Crusades; we gave permission to the brutal enslavement of African-Americans in this country; we even sided with Hitler and turned our heads while he attempted to exterminate a whole race; and we sit idly by as millions of babies are ripped from the womb, on too many occasions (not all) to appease the god of convenience.
What to say? Only this… God have mercy on us… God have mercy on us.
Your very humble brother in Christ,
* Revelation 21:1–4
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”