February 15, 2013 – Friday after Ash Wednesday

Saved Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
Saved Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

Did I say Friday? Like the Friday before a long weekend? I did and I say it again…it’s FRIDAY (using all caps so you can hear me in China). I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. I don’t have any projects nor do I have any pressing responsibilities. Just nothing to do but watch old Netflix movies and vegetate. No rest for the wicked. Speaking of wicked and Netflix, what are the Republicans up to now with the filibustering of Chuck Hagel?  That’s a first for this country. They must be so proud now that they are part of a dubious historical footnote. So with this delay an upcoming meeting of NATO the USA will need a sub for him. How about sending Rand Paul, he’s reasonable. Even John McCain (yes he is still in the senate) said he wouldn’t filibuster Hagel, and yet he did.  Let’s send John McCain, there’s got to be a TV camera at the NATO summit he can talk to, just tell him its “on” and he’ll just start talking. You mean politicians go back on their word? Amazin’. Even Marco Rubio’s sad attack on the SOTU speech (which he obviously didn’t listen to) looks good by comparison to this stupid filibuster scam.

Hey, do you know what other thing happened on this day, Irena Sendler was born outside Warsaw, Poland. She was the Catholic social worker (socialist? no, social worker) who saved more than 2,500 Jewish children from the clutches of the Nazi’s during WWII. She got the bug to be socially conscious while watching her doctor father treat mostly poor Jewish families. When the Nazi’s invaded Poland, Irena was an administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department. She was able to provide meals, food and other services to the Jewish residents by registering them under Christian names.

When the Nazi’s forced the Jews into the Warsaw Ghetto, Irena joined the Polish underground to rescue Jewish children. Even as a young mom herself she was able, with about 30 volunteers to rescue the kids by smuggling them out of the ghetto in ambulances and coffins. She would send the children into Catholic Churches for “confession” where they emerged bearing new Christian identities.

She recruited non-Jewish families to shelter the children, and forged documents to give them new identities.  She also kept a record of the children’s true identities so they could be reunited with their families after the war. She placed these documents in jars and buried them underneath an apple tree in her neighbor’s yard.

In 1943, the Nazi’s arrested Irena and tortured and imprisoned her.  She was saved from a death sentence when one of her German jailers was bribed, and she escaped. She was hunted by the Nazi’s throughout the rest of the war.

Irena died on May 12, 2008, at the age of 98.

Scripture for the day comes from Matthew Chapter 6.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

(Matt 6:5-6,16-18)

As cool as the story of Irena is, most of us are not in a position to even remotely have a situation like that fall into our collective laps. But what we can do during this time of Lent, is do good, without fanfare or “look at what I’m doing.” Small acts of kindness to our fellow human beings. It is foolish to take the food from the table of the poor and marginalized and give it to the military. That’s insane, and patently un-Christian. So maybe doing good is to tell our representatives in DC that a balanced approach to righting the ship of state is at stake. Sequester is not an either or. Does the military really need all the funding at the expense of the poor? Nah, didn’t think so either. Take a risk. Stand against the wind. Make lent a do-thing rather than a give up-thing.

and so it goes….

A little song, a little dance, a little coffee down your pants... 40 years in the high school classroom and now on my own. A chance to think about stuff and how it affects everyone, not just me. Now residing in Oregon volunteering for a refugee organization.

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