By Gerry Fischer
A good friend at church expressed the opinion that life is like a roll of “toilette paper, the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” So true. None of us know the day or hour life will end, and while I didn’t recognize it as a blessing, I have been blessed to be with both parents and a neighbor lady, when they passed. At the time, I looked on the experience with my parents, as a blessing and a curse, and at the experience with my neighbor more of a curse. Now I realize there was no curse involved in the experiences. I was blessed by being with them and I learned from the experience, death does not hurt, it is as easy as taking a breath. I also learned how helpless and humble you feel standing in the presence of those departed. Sometimes blessings appear as something bad, but prove to be good. Thus, at this time of year when we all should be giving thanks, let’s slow down a little to recognize the blessings, not so apparent.
A few weeks ago, Shirley Brown and I were there manning the museum. I don’t remember how the subject of blessings came up, but one thing led to another, and I mentioned a book I used to teach from at St. Simon and Jude School. It was entitled “The Hiding Place,” and written by an Amsterdam, Holland citizen named Corrie ten Boom. Its about how Casper, her father and sister Betsie hid Jews from the Nazi’s during WW II.
Casper was a well-known watchmaker, and when the Jews were being rounded up before being sent to the death camps, the ten Booms, managed to hide a good many and secret them safely out of the country. They were like a station on the “Underground Railroad.” Eventually they were caught and Betsie and Corrie were imprisoned in the concentration camp Ravensbruck. The ten Boom family were Christians. Betsie was the elder sister, but Corrie was the leader in the family next to Casper. Corrie’s mother died in 1918 and Betsie, the more obedient to God became a sort of mother figure to Corrie, and she daily thanked God for whatever the day had provided. All the inmates in the camp lived horrible lives, with little to eat, poor clothes to wear and daily faced death and starvation. Corrie could see little to thank God for. One day, all the women in their group, were given jobs making war materials, detonators, sights for bombs and the like. They were moved into the dirtiest of barracks heavily infested with fleas. The women were constantly scratching and bemoaning their lot in life. That first night, Betsie got down on her knees and thanked God for the move to the new barracks, their meager rations and finally for providing the blessing of the fleas! Corrie could not believe her ears! Betsie explained that God provided the fleas, and since he provided everything, he deserved thanks for them. The two sisters fell out over the fleas, but still loved one another. At sometime while engaged in making these bomb sights, detonators or whatever, the women began leaving out parts or not tightening wires or in other ways hindering the Nazi war effort. It did not take long until the guards searched every barrack, not finding anything wrong, they came to search Corrie and Betsie’s. When the matrons marched into the barracks, they were immediately swarmed over by the fleas. They scratched, stomped their feet, rubbed their legs and arms, and complained. The head Matron decided that since they found nothing wrong so far, they would not search this barrack. She reported the sabotage came from somewhere else. That night everyone thanked God for the fleas, because all the ladies would have all been put to death. God does move in mysterious ways.
See Part 3, in next week’s issue, where seemingly bad things become blessings.