Address

Address

It feels sudden, suddenly, and overwhelming,

when I hear the brakes of the truck
as it backs in, to load up my past,
to transport my life until now.
I feel both jolts of clarity, and of reality, 
going straight to my heart,
having been consumed, for so long,
by the why, as much as the how.

Two decades of possessions, one of mixed emotions,

accumulation, and memories,
sometimes, that seemed so right,
that somehow, slowly, seemed wrong.
Strangers, gathering up all that I have,
packing up all of the years,
carrying them out the door,
and then moving them along.


I think, eventually, or soon, I will find out

that this was a momentous day.
When I finally get to breathe, 
and to slow things down, and to have a look.
I will see a vital and necessary step
on the way back to me.
I will recognize another pivotal and decisive stride
that I bravely undertook.

Soon enough, I will remember all that is so very good.
I will be sitting, and settled, in my new home.
Unconstrained. With the rest of my life before me.
 And those I love will be knocking at my door.
As always, I will graciously welcome them in.
To them, only my address will have changed.
They’ve all been here with me, my entire way.
Each arrives, carrying the same love as before.

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5,000

 

During World War II, starting in the winter of 1940-41, in and around the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in Nazi-occupied France, 5,000 Jews were sheltered…by 5,000 Christians.

The Protestant Huguenot villagers, mostly poverty-stricken themselves, protected the Jews at the risk of their own lives. Every home took in Jews, fed and protected them, right under the noses of the Gestapo. They were often hidden in the countryside when the authorities came to investigate. For four years they defied the Nazi régime and a French government that was collaborating with the Nazis. The citizens of Le Chambon sheltered these strangers, educated their children, and arranged for hundreds to flee to Switzerland or Spain via an intricate, wooded, underground escape route.

True to their beliefs, some citizens of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon penned a letter to the Nazi-influenced Vichy government, feeling spiritually obligated to admit that they were indeed sheltering Jewish refugees. They were clearly defiant in their determination to protect them – “We feel obliged to tell you that there are among us a certain number of Jews…whose only fault is to be born in another religion…We have Jews. You’re not getting them.”

No resident of Le Chambon, it is believed, ever turned away or betrayed a single Jewish refugee.

            “I do not know what a Jew is.  I know only human beings.”
André Trocmé, the Huguenot pastor of Le Chambon

5,000
They were welcomed

  Given shelter and refuge
  Without hesitation.
O
n the edge of violence.

Protected, without question
  Given food and a future
  At the risk of everything
I
n open defiance.


One life saved, f
or every hero
From a man
From a horrific plan
From a power, aiming for zero

Five thousand.
Spared a hateful demise
Five thousand.
Strong and assured
Five thousand.
Sharing one single purpose
Five thousand.
  And no one said a word.


Hiding strangers

Sharing what little they had
 Without hesitation
For a number of years.

A beacon of hope
  Sharing an indomitable spirit
  Without reservation
A
nd despite their fears.


Committed, as one, to uphold humanity

To do what was right
To the preservation of life 

 An immaculate deception, in the face of the enemy

Five thousand.
Hidden amongst them
Five thousand.
Their c
onviction, silently heard
Five thousand.
Sharing one selfless will
Five thousand.
  And no one said a word.

                                        Gary Greentree


Happy are those hungry and thirsty of justice…for they will be satisfied.”
-André Trocmé

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