Inner Circle

 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Last week I lived for a few days in the old Jewish quarter of Krakow in Poland and spent a day walking through Auschwitz-Birkenau. There is no sense in which you could say this visit was enjoyable even though years of reading came to life for me. It's one thing to learn history and another to walk the ground, to climb the steps, to feel the barbed wire and to stand in the torture chambers of Block 11.

I walked from the Judenramp to the gas chambers. It's a tough thing to learn that children were judged to have no utility so most of them were sent to death without delay. It could be argued that death was a greater mercy than the life suffered by those whose labour was considered to have some value. I went to the building where Dr Mengele did his work. I remembered reading how this man scolded an assistant because he had smudged a record that Mengele, "had constructed with such love". Ponder how a person could murder infant twins without a thought but be concerned about a smudge on his beloved records. I looked into the rooms where Sonderkommandos lived. It was prisoners who did most of the work that made this camp run. A fate much worse than death.

For six hours of brisk walking, I struggled to ponder the sheer industrial scale of this place. A place purpose built for theft, forced labour and death. I walked the same ground that a soldier named Moll walked. I'd read of his acts of cruelty over the years. He once made a prisoner stand in a petrol-filled dish and ignited it. He made prisoners climb electrified fences. He smashed skulls and shot people without a thought. When small numbers were liquidated ("small" could mean less than 500 people), people would be lead to a spot by Sonderkommandos and then shot by soldiers. Moll used a soft bullet that meant people were often still alive when they were thrown into the pit to be burned.

These places are a massive tourist attraction. There is no time to stop and ponder, groups of about 30 people are pushing each other around trying to keep to a timetable and to cover enough ground to get a high level concept of the camp's size and purposes. It’s impossible not to notice others on the tour. Some were "know it alls" who wanted to correct the guide on some points, some whinged about the length of the walk, some were overwhelmed and paralysed by what they saw. I was silent. One lady hesitated to enter a room that displayed tons and tons of human hair. She froze with tears quietly flowing. I just touched her on the shoulder as I walked past and said, "thank you".

For the rest of my life I'll wrestle with this visit. I will return home determined to check racism wherever I find it. I will return home knowing that the Wayside mission of creating community with no 'us and them' is one of the most important tasks in life.

Until then, thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Graham


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

www.revgrahamlong.com

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Previous Inner Circles

2016

14 April: Colourful language

7 April: Poetic licence

31 March: Happy in the Cross

24 March: Easter

17 March: A party mix

10 March: The intimacy of everything

3 March: An unusual look

25 February: He ain't heavy

18 February: Tears of laughter and sadness

11 February: Wisdom is a tricky business

4 February: A wave from The Wayside Chapel

28 January: Some long distance loving

21 January: No time for judgement

2015

17 December: Last note for 2015

10 December: Sanity Clause if coming to town

3 December: It's all about the presence

26 November: The joy of not knowing

19 November: The curse of perfectionism

12 November: To speak is to act

5 November: My cup runneth over

29 October: Prophet and loss

22 October: Finding yourself in a magical team

15 October: A silly question

8 October: Surprised by the joy

1 October: Being dead right

24 September: A day by the Wayside

17 September: It's a gold rush

10 September: The psychology of onions

3 September: Life comes from without

27 August: Surprised by the beautiful

20 August: Light shining through the cracks

13 August: A matter of balance

6 August: Recognising a gift

30 July: Your weakly note

23 July: 'A thing' from the Wayside

16 July: The future is calling

9 July: In love with some Dame

2 July: Better days ahead

25 June: Something funny, something beautiful

18 June: Seeing what's there

11 June: Amazing mates

4 June: There's a time and a place

28 May: The weight and the joy of being a neighbour

21 May: You're invited

14 May: Laughing, lying and loving

7 May: The awesome in the ordinary

30 April: Wayside light

23 April: Priceless gifts, freely given

16 April: Good news from the Wayside is great news

9 April: Awesome

2 April: Easter by the Wayside

26 March: Thankful for little things

19 March: A few minutes in the cross

12 March: Seeing what isn't there

5 March : A tour like no other

26 February: Tough love

19 February: Puffing or building

12 February: The two shall become two

5 February: Chest pains

29 January: Shear joy

22 January 2015: Fully alive

15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions

8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory

2014

18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand

11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill

4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night

27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better

20 November 2014: Gathering Moss

13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people

6 November 2014: The power of presence

30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence

23 October 2014: The joy of sight

16 October 2014: The best medicine

9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?

2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist

21 August: Saving souls

14 August: Squeaking out

7 August: A time for turning

31 July: You're okay

24 July: Happy tears

17 July: Let's aim higher

10 July: Gristle and good

3 July: The joy of not knowing

26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?

12 June: Longing for riches

5 June: When you least expect it

22 May: Finding home

15 May: Flying

8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues

1 May: Skuse the French

24 April: Lifting the curtain

17 April: Collective love

10 April: Cardiac arrest

3 April: Awe struck

27 March: You're invited to something special

20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss

13 March: It's all happening at the wayside

6 March: Love makes all the difference

27 February: What goes around

20 February: The joy of being empty handed

13 February: Loving the growth spurts

6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside

23 January: Some criminals have class

16 January: Wonderful surprises

9 January: Ready, set

2013

19 December: Thanks for an awesome year

12 December: Mission and wishin'

5 December: The ups and downs and all is well

28 November: Kissed by the community

21 November: Our cup runneth over

14 November: A revelation from wayside

7 November: When excrement happens

31 October: I am therefore I think

24 October: We are surrounded by heroes

17 October: When you least suspect

26 September: A wayside wobbly

19 September: Knowing a gift

12 September: Advancing at the retreat

5 September: A little dose of good

29 August: Fighting with a feather

22 August: The boom is just beginning

15 August: True riches

8 August: Small is beautiful

1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views

25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside

18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage

27 June: Holy ground

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given

 

 

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