Monthly Archives: December 2012

Love and Light

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The Little PrinceAs we come to the end of 2012 and its dire end of the world predictions, I found it difficult to connect to the joyous occasion of Hanukkah and its celebration of a miracle. And I’m finding it difficult to connect to Christmas, that event commemorating the advent of a savior born into the world.

I reflect upon the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, nature’s revenge laying bare our belief that we have no responsibility for the environment. And then another Sandy…the Sandy Hook classroom where an  unimaginable massacre of children and adults tore the heart out from an entire community. It is beyond words to conceive of such a heinous act. Yet I remember  World War II, children being sacrificed to the gods of hatred, fear, and revenge.

I wonder about a society that has accepted the alienation of those on the fringe. A society that doesn’t question the onslaught of television shows dedicated to murder and extermination, or reality shows expounding our twisted perversions of life, or video games that give sensations of power by the touch of a button, or tattoos that send a message to the  world of a tribal need to belong to something other than the instant messaging of iphones, ipads…I this, I that, I nobody.

Why is it that we have not understood that kindness, compassion, gentleness and love are not expressions of weakness but of that which empowers all of mankind. Why is it that martyred children have become reminders that we as a society have failed to provide hope for a kinder and more beautiful world for our young.

But I also know that the beautiful little faces of so many murdered children have shifted something in the global consciousness.

I believe we have come to the crossroads between dark and light. I am reminded once again of those lines  spoken by The Little Prince, a charming and seemingly frail little boy with curly blond hair and a scarf around his neck, traveling through the galaxies, seeding his words of love: L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. On ne voit bien qu’avec le Coeur.

This is the book that comforts me over and over again in troubled times. When I face my doubts, it reminds me that love and light will heal the world. I wish everyone on this planet (and in other galaxies!) the hope that this will come to pass.

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On Friendship

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Mariette and Mariette At this time of the year when most families are gathering to celebrate the holidays, I think about those of us who because of various misfortunes have lost the comfort of family and tradition. These times then become moments of reflection on what we have created to bring joy to our lives. My thoughts turn to the friends I have made over the years. They have sustained me and  have become family. They have given me joy and warmth and the courage that is needed to feel that one belongs in this sometimes cruel world.

Some are no longer friends, some have died, some may not always be available but they all have a place in my heart. But the most painful is the memory of friends who have died too young. It reminds me of the way my mentor and creative source, Michel de  Montaigne, dedicated his work to his best friend, La Boetie. When La Boetie died all too young, Montaigne wrote: ce jour qui pour moi sera toujours amer, toujours sacre. (That day which for me will always remain bitter, always sacred) And so I think of my friend Mariette, who died in her early twenties.

Mariette was the first friend I ever had. Sharing the same name gave us a special bond from the beginning. It was during the war in Belgium. We were both six years old at the time. Even then she was la grande and I was la petite. I had no other friends in those days because as a Jewish child hiding in a Catholic community, it was dangerous for everyone concerned that I not say anything that might connect me to being Jewish.

Mariette and I never discussed such things. We were children, and then young  adolescents sharing the joys and moments of celebration in the village where I returned every year to be with my benefactors. Then I left for America when I was twelve and never saw Mariette again.

I looked forward to our reunion when I went back “home” for the first time after ten years of separation. I was ecstatic to return to Belgium, and looking forward to seeing Mariette again. No one had told me that she had died a tragic death three weeks before I arrived.

Mariette,Flore,Ghislaine1She carried with her the memory of her own mother, blown to bits before her eyes. Mariette’s mother had taken too long to vacate the cellar where they were hiding and was struck by the fragments of a grenade. Now my friend Mariette had taken her own life.

I cannot forget her. I recently found a picture of her and her two cousins. She is sitting at the head of a wheelbarrow holding the handle which looks like a cross. For me it represents the cross she bore of having witnessed her mother’s death.

I dedicate this holiday to all the children suffering from the aftermath of war.

And I dedicate this memory to all those who are blessed, like myself, with friends dear enough to be family.

And lastly, I dedicate these words to my beloved friend, Mariette.