Archive for July 2010
The deer came back and ate most of my rosebuds again and even most of the leaves off the bushes! I had moved the table I had in front of the bushes. They come from a creek two houses away.
I saw them at 11:30 the other night, a doe and a teenage fawn, but both are juvenile delinquents, as far as I’m concerned. I chased them back to the creek. Someone told me that they are dangerous, however. Her golden retriever went after a buck in her back yard, it reared up and killed it with its sharp front hoofs!
There is one beautiful rose in back that they left and three buds – but they ate most of the leaves! I hope the bushes recover.
Nicholas D. Kristof’s quote from Henry Kissinger in his Op-ED essay in the New York Times today gave me a laugh: “Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”
The Prayer of the Day in worship today stirred up my thoughts. It went like this:
“Eternal God, you draw near to us in Christ and you make yourself our guest. Amid the cares of our lives [this refers to Martha] make us attentive to your presence, that we may treasure your word above all else [like Mary], through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.”
The story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10: 38-42) was the gospel reading for today.
But the part of the prayer that stirred my thoughts was “treasuring your word above all else.” The word may mean a concrete word in language, of course, because a word is pretty miraculous when spoken, as miraculous as a flower like a rose or a California poppy. Think of the incredibly complex way the tongue, lips, throat, teeth, breath, and voice form a word, whose sound waves are picked up by our hammer, anvil, and eardrum and formed in our minds! So a beautiful flower is comparable to words like “poem” and “math,” words which are “ethnically” Greek, and have immigrated into the English language, whether legally or illegally, I don’t know. Good thing there were no language vigilantes killing words and making them die before they crossed over our borders.
Treasuring the word can also mean language per se, or it can be the promise of God, who gives us his word. It can also mean Scripture, the word through which God speaks to us; it can mean the Word incarnate, Jesus Christ, who is the word become flesh, the word became a human being and dwelt with us. With that we sing, “Jesus priceless treasure, source of purest pleasure, truest friend to me.”
Thus it can also mean the Second Person of the most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. Treasuring the word can also mean receiving the gift of creation, spoken by God into existence. Then the word can be in us and we can be inside the word, when Christ is in our hearts and as Luther says in his “Freedom of a Christian,” “One who hears the word becomes like the word, pure, good, and just.”
Thus when we treasure the word above all else, we too become words spoken from the mouth of God and the food for those who do not live by bread alone.
(A poem worked up from old ideas in a 1960’s file folder.)
In the shimmering light of brown,
the S.S. empty another round;
casting their lots for the seamless gown.
Golgotha’s going down
into the blood-soaked ground.
Thugs in jack-boots shooting the slain,
lines of women, children, elderly men,
bodies dropping into piles of pain,
the greenwood cross all over again.
July 3, 2010 – peter krey on World War II
and its mass production of NAZI death
(My mother wanted me to write the story of what happened to our family during World War II, when we had to move back and forth through war-torn Germany and that 22 times to avoid the NAZI authorities and the Russians, because my father was an American citizen. I knew all the stories and when I went upstairs to write them down and put in the details, I suddenly realized that although I had relived them many times in the family’s retelling them, I had not been there. When I told my mother about my problem, she wrote up this incident for me. She put it into my voice, but I have rewritten it in her voice. Since then she has herself written a book for the family about what we went through. From comparing her story (remembered in 1965 or 1966) with the one she tells Tante Irene in her letter (in 1945), one can see that different “tellings” of a story bring out different features. Mother tries to fill in details for me that I had explained, I just couldn’t know.)
In My Mother’s Words
In 1945 our family had taken refuge in a small village, [called Fliegenberg,] alongside the Elbe River. The Elbe is one of the biggest rivers in Germany. When I was small, I had often been near it without realizing it. In our stay there in that village at first we lived with a farmer. He had just enough room in his little farmhouse for himself, but that did not matter, for we were not the only family sent to this village, since the Russians were coming from the East. He was a kind farmer and we did not have it too hard, except that we had to divide the family. The two oldest boys had to stay with another farmer and help him with his farm-work. Two of the older girls had to do the same thing for another farm family. Some weeks and then a month passed by and things became more serious politically. More men were needed by the Heimwehr (homeland defense). There was a danger that Father and Matthias would become the next draftees.
One day, early in Spring, Father ordered that we pack everything and when dawn came over the little village we crept out [into the shadows of the country road and walked] to the ferry. There we stood with “Sack und Pack.” That means with everything we had, waiting for the ferry at the edge of the river to take us to the other side. Old Jim, the ferryman had quite a job to board us all, since our family was so large and then there were our important belongings, the only ones we had left.
In those last days [of the war] it was [an ordeal] to travel in a family or group. Therefore we had to be organized and that to the full meaning of the word. Each one had his or her job: watching over certain baggage, for example, and each of the older sisters and brothers had the responsibility for a younger sister or brother. It was important for us that the family not become divided or [God forbid] that anybody should be lost.
Till then the Lord had always been with us and protected us. We had many times seen the hardship of those who lost their loved ones and we wanted to be very careful. But here on the other side of the Elbe, we were supposed to experience what it meant to be separated. Involved was one of our possessions, a baby carriage, which was mostly used to hold some of the heavier baggage.
Arriving at the train station we waited for hours and hours. We were hoping to get a train that should take us into the direction that we guessed the American soldiers were coming. Standing [on the platform], waiting, being hungry and thirsty was something we had known about for a long time. So in spite of all that we were not alarmed, but quite happy even after the hours of waiting, when a train pulled into the station.
To board a train at that time was no easy task. They were mostly overcrowded when they pulled into [the station] and then hundreds still tried to push in [from the platform]. My oldest girl and boy, Ruthie and Matthias, had to bring the carriage to the baggage car and then board the train anywhere. The train pulled out of the station and to our horror they both stood on the platform with the carriage. Tears streamed down from their eyes. The man in the baggage car had refused to accept the carriage.
“Take the next train! We will wait at the next big station. We will not leave.” Father cried out of the window. We were sick at heart as the train pulled away and we hoped [and prayed] that the Lord would soon bring us back together.
Everybody knows, of course, that there were no seats available and those who had seats were not to be envied. The air was thick and smelly. And among all those refugees, who do you think could have washed or taken a bath that morning? We were not much concerned about cleanliness in those moments. Most of the time I had to hold the baby, little Peter, in my arms so he could breathe. So even though the train pulled through the beautiful country-side, we did not feel much like looking at the scenery.
Now and then the train stopped to let off passengers. It was impossible to reach the doors. The windows served as the doors for both the passengers and their baggage. After a long time I [finally] had a place to sit while Father stood near a window. The train made another stop. It just happened that Father had a chance to look out of the window. What did he see? Our own baggage thrown out onto the platform! Was it an error or was someone planning to take it? That would not have been the first time [our things were stolen]. After a great deal of protesting, the baggage was put back through the windows in its place. We were happy that Father noticed the mistake.
The train continued and we reached the forest called Sachsenwalde, the Saxon Woods. Somewhere here Bismark was buried, but nobody knows exactly where. Upon entering the big forest a sign reads: “Hier ruht Bismark!” which means, this is Bismark’s final resting place. So it seems that the whole forest became his cemetery, the final resting place of the Iron Chancellor.
I now thought that our last moments had come.
We suddenly heard a big roar in the sky. Bombers dove out of the clouds to attack the train. The engineer did not know whether he should stop or try to outrun the planes. He was unable to make the decision. Some people ordered him to stop while others ordered him to go on. It did not take long for many of the people to become hysterical. Finally the engineer brought the train to a stop. Most of the women and children escaped through the doors or jumped through the windows. In the aisle there were two German soldiers. They also climbed through the windows and helped others getting out. The passengers were running to take refuge in the dark forest of the Sachsenwald. Two of my girls had also already been helped to get out of the train through the windows. They had crossed the adjacent tracks waiting to run into the woods. Next the soldiers helped two more of my little girls jump out of the window. They too stood on the tracks waiting for their older sister, Hannah, to climb through the window, jump out, and run with them into the woods.
Suddenly everyone screamed outside and inside the train. It was a scream that made your blood curdle. Hannah was pushed back into the train by a soldier. In the next second an express train rushed past [on the tracks] where my two girls were standing a moment ago.
Everyone looking suddenly became speechless. I pushed my way to the door, screaming, “My two little girls are gone! My God, have mercy!” But then the pale face of a soldier appeared through the window saying, “They are saved. They are under our train.” Then I could hear his cries to the engineer not to move so that my little girls would not be crushed by our own train.
I immediately called all my children to come back into the train. “If we die, then we will all die together.” I said.
Slowly the train pulled away from the Sachsenwald where Bismark rests. [Magdeburg,] the destination before us was now a burning city. The bombers had done their job really well.
Check it out! I don’t know why this sermon has followed the page about my mother’s funeral as the most popular. That page has over 1,600 hits, but this sermon just went to 1,008 hits. The runner up is “Christ, the King” at 960 hits.