Oct 29, 2010
Somehow I ended up watching a video on Facebook last night. I don’t usually click on videos these days, because I don’t have time. But this 12 minutes was so worth it. Worth every second. And maybe it’s because I just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by the way, it’s really good), but I don’t think that’s it.
This is a video of Alice Sommer, the oldest Holocaust survivor alive. She’ll turn 107 next month.
I was moved and heart-broken by so many things she said. I don’t think everything she said is spot-on (the whole “music is God” thing), but I want to run it through the sieve of Truth and hold onto the lessons that are worth learning, namely, that I have a choice to love. I have a choice to be joyful in difficult circumstances. I want to take what’s true and beautiful here and let the Holy Spirit point me to Jesus.
And while I’m not comparing her Nazi prison camp experience to my experience of losing a child, I still see lessons and similarities. There’s no use in comparing what she went through and what I’ve gone through. They’re different. But there is pain. Pain is universal, no?
There’s potential for all kinds of hatred and anger in both of our situations (and probably in yours). But can I forgive? Can I move toward healing? Yes. Oh my, yes. I’ve experienced measures of healing I didn’t think possible. And you can hear it in her laugh. Healing exists.
The other thing that I can totally relate to is the power of music. I grew up in a very musical family, and music was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I love to listen to music, I love to play or sing music, I love to enjoy music.
When Felicity died, when I was going through some of my darkest days, I developed a soundtrack. A song would hit me as I drove down the road, or sat on my bed, and it would inspire my shriveling faith, or encourage me toward (what I felt was non-existent) hope, or meet me right in the midst of my anger and challenge me toward love. I have a playlist now. It’s the “Grief Mix.” I still love that mix. I remember pulling up to the graveside on one occasion, blasting Sandra McCracken’s “Guardian” over and over on repeat and just sobbing until I had nothing left. There was promise there for my soul.
When you go out, when you come home;
like a hedge, like a shield, I’ll be your guardian…
It was as though God used the music to break through the hardest parts of me, and dig into the deepest depths. And it’s funny, because it was like those songs were for me only. It’s like my own little secret language with the Lord. Because no one will hear those songs and know exactly how it makes me feel, or know exactly what I was experiencing the first time I heard it, or know why it has a place on the “Grief Mix.” It’s just mine. I own it for my soul. And that’s kinda like Alice. She owned those Chopin etudes in the camp and they transformed her.
I don’t think music is God. But I do think that there was so much power in it for my healing. God used music to change me.
So I hope you feel inspired by Alice today. And, more importantly, I hope you want to heal.